February 28, 2018 / 9:21 AM / 8 months ago

AccorHotels' shares fall as property stake sale disappoints some

PARIS (Reuters) - Shares in AccorHotels fell on Wednesday as some analysts expressed disappointment over the terms of the 4.4 billion euros (£3.9 billion) sale of 55 percent of the company’s AccorInvest property business.

Sebastien Bazin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of French hotel operator AccorHotels, attends the company's 2017 annual results presentation in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris, France, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

AccorHotels shares down 1.9 percent at 47.24 euros in early session trading, among the worst performers on France’s benchmark CAC-40 index.

Accor announced late on Tuesday the plans to sell the majority holding to investors including Saudia Arabia’s PIF and Singapore’s GIC sovereign funds, as well as Credit Agricole Assurances, Colony NorthStar and Amundi.

Analysts at Berenberg said some investors might have felt a bit letdown by the price, although any such disappointment on that front would be offset by Accor’s plans for a share buyback.

“Accor is selling a 55 percent stake with a gross asset value of 6.25 billion euros, representing a modest discount to the 6.6 billion euros stated by the company in December 2016,” wrote Berenberg, which kept a “sell” rating on Accor.

Brokerage Oddo BHF said the percentage being sold off was below expectations, although it added the deal was broadly positive.

That view was echoed by analysts at Citigroup who said the sale was a positive move, adding in a note that it “crystallises significant value in the business.” The Citigroup team kept a “buy” rating on Accor.

The French company, which has more than 4,000 hotels ranging from luxury Sofitels to the budget Ibis brand, has said the sale will give it greater financial leeway to accelerate growth and fight the rising challenges from companies such as Airbnb and online travel agents.

AccorHotels, which competes with InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood, beat forecasts earlier this month as it reported a 10 percent rise in like-for-like operating profit to 492 million euros for 2017.

Accor shares remain up around 10 percent so far in 2018, beating a flat performance on the CAC.

($1 = 0.8193 euros)

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Marc Angrand and Blandine Henault; Editing by Dominique Vidalon

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