NEWS: Thistle hires Shandwick for possible flotation

Thistle Hotels, the UK’s second biggest hotel chain, has hired Shandwick Consultants as its financial public relations adviser ahead of a possible stock market flotation later this year.

Thistle Hotels, the UK’s second biggest hotel chain, has hired Shandwick

Consultants as its financial public relations adviser ahead of a

possible stock market flotation later this year.



The company, which operates 100 Thistle and Mount Charlotte hotels

across the UK, appointed Shandwick on Monday after a pitch against

Brunswick last week. Both agencies were initially approached by Baring

Brothers which, together with Merrill Lynch, will act as Thistle’s

financial advisers.



Julia Record, Thistle’s director of public relations, explained that

Shandwick had been picked because of its knowledge of and research into

the hotel and leisure sector. ‘In terms of the industry and how we are

trying to position Thistle at the quality end of the market they totally

understood where we were coming from and where we want to go,’ she said.



Reporting to the company’s chief executive Robert Peel, Shandwick will

be expected to drum up interest in the float among the business and

financial press, sector analysts and potential investors. Depending on

the type of placing, fees for the project could be worth anywhere

between pounds 50,000 and pounds 200,000.



Thistle, which is 70 per cent owned by New Zealand investment house

Brierley Investments and 30 per cent by the Singapore government, has

long been tipped for flotation.



Last year pre-tax profits leapt by 50 per cent to pounds 35.5 million,

prompting speculation that Brierley would attempt to liquefy its

investment through a flotation. A float, which is likely to take place

in the autumn, could give Thistle a market value of pounds 800 million.



Shandwick’s appointment by Thistle is the latest in series of hirings by

the hotel industry, which has enjoyed something of a boom since the

fiercely fought takeover of Forte by Granada in January.



This year Macdonald Hotels, Millenium and Cop-thorne and Jarvis Hotels

have all made moves to the stock market, advised respectively by

Citigate, Brunswick and Ludgate.



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