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
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.