• Nordic reshuffle as consolidation deepens

A major shuffle is on the cards among Nordic hotel owners and operators, as the second biggest Finnish owner enters exclusive talks and a Swedish owner takes a substantial minority stake in a Norwegian operator.

The moves are yet further consolidation in what is already the most brand penetrated and least fragmented part of Europe.

State-owned Kapiteeli has entered exclusive negotiations with Norwegian owner Norgani to sell 15 hotels and one congress centre. The Finnish property group, which also has interests in retail and offices, said it expects to sign the deal by the end of June.

The hotels are worth Eu218m and have a total of 2,913 rooms. A dozen of the properties are leased by Scandic. After the transaction, Norgani will have a total of 79 properties with 13,379 rooms. The deal is being part-financed by a rights issue.

Separately, Home Properties, which until March this year was known as Capona, is to buy a 39.3% stake in Norwegian operator Rica.

Rica has 51 hotels, 45 in Norway and six in Sweden. Of these, it owns two outright (in Alta and Malmo) and is the joint owner of three hotels (in Oslo and Kristiansand). It also has about 30 partner hotels which belong to its marketing consortium.

Home owns 22 hotels, of which 19 are in Sweden and three in Norway. It recently changed its name as part of its plan to move beyond exclusive hotel ownership into other property types.

The move into hotel management, however, is something of a surprise, particularly as a minority shareholder. The biggest stake in Rica is the 52% holding by its founder, Jan Rivelsrud.

Meanwhile, another Scandinavian owner, Pandox, has bought the third biggest hotel in the German capital Berlin. The 701-room Hotel Berlin was purchased from UK-base Azure Property Investments which acquired the hotel in 2005.

Pandox said it would reposition the property to tap into the meetings and event segment with an investment programme of between Eu7m and Eu8m. Pandox now owns 87 hotels with around 8,500 rooms.

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