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Friday, 3 July 2009

Cold water poured on Whitbread rumours

One tale — possibly spurious — doing the rounds was that Whitbread, which owns Premier Inn, could soon be back in talks with Dubai International Capital (DIC) about a tie-up with Travelodge, the budget hotel operator backed by the sovereign wealth fund. Whitbread, Travelodge and DIC tried to do the deal last year but it fell apart over price and structure.

Yesterday, leisure analysts picked up on unsubstantiated gossip that DIC has been informally sounding out potential buyers of Travelodge. One way for DIC to exit the business would be to fold it into London-listed Whitbread and retain a stake in the merged businesses, said an analyst.

Travelodge declined to comment. However, a person close to the situation played down the tale, saying a deal is unlikely because it would be referred to the competition authorities. Whitbread perked up 9½ to 826p.

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