Easyhotel founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has called on shareholders to reject a £139m bid for the business, saying it fails to recognise the company’s “true value”.
Real estate fund Icamap made the 95p per share bid for the hotel chain this morning alongside developer Ivanhoe Cambridge.
But Haji-Ioannou, who remains a 27 per cent shareholder via his Easygroup investment firm, said the offer is “very low”.
“I urge all other shareholders to take no action until the true value and future potential of Easyhotel can be evaluated,” he said.
Icamap’s offer represents a 34.8 per centy premium to last week’s close of 70.5p per share. But Haji-Ioannou said the share price has been much higher in recent years.
“It should be noted Icamap themselves paid 110p only 18 months ago and the stock has been as high as 128p just 15 months ago.”
Nevertheless, Easyhotel’s share price surged 35.5 per cent on the takeover offer to 95.5p – above the actual value of the bid.
Icamap became an Easyhotel shareholder in October 2016 and now holds a 38.7 per cent stake in the business.
Easyhotel has urged shareholders to back a £138.7m takeover offer from an investor-led consortium that would see shareholders earn 95p per share.
The offer, a 34.8 per cent premium to last week’s close of 70.5p, comes from a consortium comprising real estate developer Ivanhoe Cambridge and real estate fund manager and existing shareholder Icamap.
Through the pair’s newly created Bidco firm, they said they “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”.
Their bid represents a 36.7x multiple of Easyhotel’s most recent full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of £3.4m.
Jonathan Lane OBE, chairman of Easyhotel, said the offer was “fair and reasonable and in the best interests of shareholders”.
“If accepted, the offer should enable the Easyhotel Group to accelerate its expansion into major European cities where it sees significant opportunity, underpinning the long-term growth and prosperity of the Easyhotel brand,” he added.
Investec has advised independent Easyhotel directors on the terms of Bidco’s offer.
Icamap managing director, Harm Meijer, whose firm has held shares since October 2016, argued that Easyhotel needs a cash injection and new owners to deliver on its potential.
“We continue to believe in the long-term strategy of the business,” he said. “However, we also believe that the Company needs a change in its shareholder base in order for Easyhotel to become a true leading pan-European budget hotel player.”
He added that Easyhotel could continue life as a listed company or quit the stock market to achieve its goals.
“We are open-minded about whether Easyhotel remains a publicly traded company or becomes private. In either case, we believe that the change of ownership which our offer will deliver is essential to enable easyHotel to navigate the current market uncertainty and to thrive in the future.”
Easyhotel recently warned uncertainty in 2019 could hurt margins for its latest financial year despite revenue soaring 60 per cent in the three months to the end of December.