De Vere Group has announced the widely expected disposal of its conference venue business to the American private investment group Starwood Capital for £231m (US$385m). The price is closely in line with recent expectations, as it became clear that initial hopes that the business might raise £280m-£300m for its owners, Lloyds Banking Group, were over optimistic.
The business consists of 23 venues, with more than 2,400 rooms and around 414,000 sq. ft of meeting space. Lloyds has been looking to sell its interest in De Vere, which it inherited when it acquired HBOS, for some time and the sale of the hotels and urban resorts divisions is also expected later in the year.
Starwood Capital has an imposing portfolio of 1,525 hotels across 9 brands in more than 100 countries, Until recently its UK portfolio was relatively modest, but it has now spent around £700m on three acquisitions in the UK in the last year, which have brought 50 new properties to the group.
Senior vice-president Kevin Colket says: “We are very pleased to add De Vere Venues to our growing portfolio of attractive and well-placed assets in the United Kingdom. “The company serves a number of long-term, blue-chip corporate customers, and we look forward to building upon its reputation for operational excellence”.