• Protea swallowed by Stella

Africa’s biggest hotel management company Protea has been bought by Stella Group, the operator of resorts in Australia and New Zealand and the owner of a stake in Europe’s Golden Tulip.

Protea’s management of its 126-strong portfolio fetched A$255m. The 9,000 strong room count is expected to grow by a further 3,000 by then end of next year.

Stella was put together over the last two years by the Australian investment group MFS. It bought Harvey World Travel, Gullivers Travel Group, Let’s Go Travel, the Saville Hotel Group, Peppers Resorts and the S8 resort chain.

As well as the travel business, Stella has a room count in excess of 6,000 across 130 properties, making it the third largest operator of branded hotels in Australia.

Currently, a 50% stake in Stella is currently on the market through UBS for A$1.2bn. A buyer is expected to be found shortly.

Meanwhile, Rolf Krecklenberg, managing director of Stella, said that when the transaction completes, which is scheduled for July, Stella would be a travel services provider across Australia, New Zealand and Africa and would have exposure to Europe through its substantial holding in Golden Tulip.

Protea’s managing director Arthur Gillis and Chairman Otto Stehlik said that they were delighted to be joining Stella. Gillis added that the deal meant Stella could access Protea’s competitive and well-developed technology, including its online marketing and reservation systems.

Both Stehlik and Gillis are remaining as executives with Protea. Stella has also agreed to sell a 26% in Protea to the current Black Economic Empowerment shareholders who will be diluting their holding from its current 54%.

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