Sonesta Enters into a Definitive Agreement to Acquire RLH Corporation

Main Photo: The Red Lion at Seattle Renton

Date: January 2021

Location: Sonesta: U.S., Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Peru, and St. Maarten. RLH across the USA

Name: Sonesta International Hotels Corporation and RLH Corporation – was Red Lion Hotels

No. of Keys: 1,200 hotels – Keys: Sonesta: 34,000…RLH – 75,000

Seller: RLH Corporation, a publicly quoted company on the NYSE

Buyer: Sonesta International Hotels Corporation announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire RLH Corporation, who are the the 10th-largest U.S.-based hotel franchise company with more than 900 hotels. After the closing of the transaction, Sonesta will become one of the largest hotel companies in the U.S. with approximately 1,200 hotels in diversified brands across multiple market segments. Sonesta also announced that upon closing of this transaction, 35-year hotel industry veteran Keith Pierce will be joining Sonesta as Executive Vice President, President of Franchise & Development.

Carlos Flores, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sonesta, made the following statement regarding today’s announcement: “Sonesta started 2020 as a manager of 58 hotels under three Sonesta-specific brands in the U.S. Upon the completion of hotel conversions previously announced and the acquisition of RLH, Sonesta will become one of the largest hotel companies in the U.S., with approximately 1,200 hotels under a diverse set of 13 brands in multiple market segments. Whereas all of Sonesta’s hotels in the U.S. are currently self-managed, the acquisition of RLH significantly accelerates Sonesta’s hotel franchising capabilities by adding a franchise platform with more than 900 hotels.

With the addition of Keith to our leadership team, we also have an experienced executive ready to manage the RLH business upon closing this transaction and we are well positioned to grow Sonesta’s franchising business in the future.”

Keith Pierce joins Sonesta with more than 35 years’ experience across the hospitality industry. He served most recently as President and Managing Partner of the Passionality Group, a hospitality investment and management advisory firm. Prior to that, he worked at Wyndham Worldwide, where he was Executive Vice President, Brand Operations for North America, and before that, President of Hotel Brand Operations for the Americas, and Group President for Hotels at Wyndham’s predecessor company, Cendant Corporation.

Keith Pierce made the following statement regarding today’s announcement: “I am looking forward to welcoming RLH franchisees to Sonesta at this dynamic and promising moment in the company’s growth. I also look forward to working closely with the RLH franchising community and building on the strong foundation RLH has created. I believe Sonesta is currently one of the industry’s most exciting, forward-looking hotel companies. I look forward to helping propel the growth of Sonesta and working closely with the leadership team to continue building a world class hotel company.”

The acquisition of RLH is currently expected to close in the first half of 2021 and it is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of RLH’s shareholders. Sonesta expects to fund this transaction with cash-on-hand and/or through capital contributions from its shareholders. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP is serving as legal counsel to Sonesta for this transaction.

THPT Comment: Sonesta made the headlines last July, when SVC – Service Properties Trust, who own 34% of Sonesta, served notice to IHG to take back 103 hotels for defaulting on non-payment for around $26m as July and August’s commitment payment, and transferred the management to Sonesta. Good mix for Sonesta, with it’s largely up-market hotels and Red Lion’s more budget-type portfolio.

First Seen: No Vacancy News

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