Australian firm buys Protea Hotels

Posted On Thursday, 22 March 2007 02:00 Published by
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Stella Group has acquired South African-based Protea Hotels for R1.48bn
By Donwald Pressly

Australia's Stella Group has acquired South African-based Protea Hotels for R1.48 billion, or A$255 million, it was announced on Thursday.

The Stella Group, a travel services and hospitality company, is a division of Australian Stock Exchange listed MFS Limited - an Australian investment and funds management company with a diverse range of investments in Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

Protea is Africa's largest hotel management company, operating 126 hotels in 13 countries.

The properties include seaside resorts, country hotels, mountain retreats, private game reserves and city centre hotels. The company is being acquired as a going concern.

Protea will add to the Stella Group stable 9,000 rooms in Africa with 3,000 more scheduled to come on stream by the end of the financial year 2008.

The Stella Group has also agreed to sell a significant interest in Protea to the current black economic empowerment (BEE) shareholders in Protea, who will realise 50% of their current investment in Protea while retaining a 26% shareholding in the local company.

In a statement released to I-Net Bridge, Stella Group managing director Rolf Krecklenberg said: "As the leading independent hotel management group in Africa, Protea Hotels is an excellent acquisition for Stella Group, rounding out an important geographic region in the division's international profile."

He said further: "When the transaction is complete, Stella Group will be a travel services provider across Australia, New Zealand and Africa and will have broad exposure to Europe through a significant shareholding in Golden Tulip Hospitality Group, one of the world's largest hotel operators."

Protea chairman Otto Stehlik and managing director Arthur Gillis - who will be retained on long-term contracts together with other senior hotel management - said they were delighted that Protea would become part of a rapidly growing and geographically diverse business.

Stehlik said in a statement: "Through the Stella Group's wide reach in Australia and New Zealand and its strategic investment in the Golden Tulip chain in Europe, this deal secures Protea's future outside of Africa as part of an established, global leader in the tourism and hospitality industry."

Gillis said the acquisition would allow the Stella Group to take advantage of Protea's competitive technology, including its acknowledged edge in online marketing and reservation systems. "In turn, we will be able to participate in much of the technology from the Stella Group."

"I'm exceptionally pleased that this acquisition will enable our staff to benefit from this opportunity to grow and be part of our global expansion," he said.

"We are also excited about the potential for the Stella Group to leverage Protea's core competencies in brand management, infrastructure, marketing, management expertise, administrative capability and our experience in relationship management."

The acquisition is subject to approval from the South African Reserve Bank and the relevant local competition authorities.

I-Net Bridge

Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge

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