Thursday, March 22, 2007

Whitbread Plc in Play Over $8.8 Billion Property Portfolio? - March 20, 2007

Shares of Whitbread Plc, the U.K. owner of the Premier Travel Inn budget lodging chain, had their biggest gain in 15 years on speculation the company may get a takeover bid worth about 4.5 billion pounds ($8.8 billion).

The shares advanced 193 pence, or 11 percent, to 1,934 pence in London, the biggest one-day gain since April 10, 1992. That raised the company's market value to about 3.81 billion pounds.

Citigroup Inc. analyst Charles Wilson said in a note yesterday that a break up of the company by a third party may realize value from the company's real estate. Whitbread has property assets worth 4.1 billion pounds, or 2,070 pence a share, according to Wilson, who has a ``buy'' rating on the stock.

Whitbread aims to open 3,000 more Premier Travel Inn hotel rooms in the U.K. next fiscal year after adding 2,500 this year, and to expand its Costa coffee-shop chain to about 2,000 stores from 650 in the next five years. Sphere: Related Content

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