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EasyHotel board recommends takeover bid from property funds

[BENGALURU] The board of British budget hotel chain easyHotel Plc on Monday recommended a bid from a consortium of Canadian real estate fund Ivanhoé Cambridge and Luxembourg's ICAMAP Investments, drawing an immediate rejection from founder by Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Shares of easyHotel surged 35.5 per cent, trading slightly above the offer price of 95 pence per share, which values the company at about 138.7 million pounds (S$232.02 million).

"I find the offer from ICAMAP to be very low and I urge all other shareholders to take no action (i.e. not accept he ICAMAP offer) until the true value and future potential of easyHotel can be evaluated," Haji-Ioannou, who owns around 27 per cent of the company, said in a statement.

ICAMAP, the largest shareholder in easyHotel with a 38.65 per cent stake, said it identified Ivanhoé Cambridge to help develop easyHotel, which the real estate fund says needs "significant investment".

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"Ivanhoé Cambridge and ICAMAP believe that the current structure of the Company's shareholder base is ill-suited to attracting the new capital the Company needs to fund its long-term investment programme," according to a joint statement by the companies.

Harm Meijer, one of the founding partners of ICAMAP, said a change in ownership was essential to enable the company to navigate the current market uncertainty and it is "open-minded" about whether easyHotel remains a publicly traded company or becomes private.

EasyHotel, which has a portfolio of 38 hotels with 3,633 rooms, was advised by Investec Bank Plc.