June 29, 2010 / 1:30 PM / in 9 years

Accor shareholders clear demerger plan

PARIS (Reuters) - Accor (ACCP.PA) shareholders cleared the French company’s plan to split into separately listed hotel and service voucher businesses to boost growth and expand abroad.

The voucher business, recently renamed Edenred, will be listed on July 2 after 88.49 percent of voting shareholders approved a one-for-one share split on Tuesday.

The plan is designed to help Accor’s operationally geared hotel business shed real estate and assets to boost cash and give the cash-rich services unit a freer hand to expand in new markets and make acquisitions, boosting valuations.

Edenred, which competes with catering services group Sodexo (EXHO.PA) and top global caterer Compass Group (CPG.L), will be listed as a separate company in Paris and trade simultaneously with the shares of Accor SA in the CAC-40 .FCHI until July 5, when it will exit the French blue-chip index.

Stock market authorities will communicate on the reference price for Edenred after the market closes on July 1.

Accor Chief Executive Gilles Pelisson told shareholders that analysts’ estimates ranged from 11 to 14 euros for Edenred’s reference price and 26 to 29 euros for the new Accor SA share.

By 1118 GMT, Accor shares were down 2.2 percent at 39.50 euros.

Jacques Stern, Edenred’s chief executive, told shareholders that 2010 would still be “a difficult year” but that he would propose a dividend payout ratio for Edenred “above that of the average of CAC-40 companies.”

Accor is also looking to sell some non-core assets to raise cash, including its 49 percent stake in casino group Lucien Barriere.

Pelisson reiterated that Accor was considering several options, including an initial public offering for the stake, which could take place in September, market conditions permitting.

The group on Tuesday reiterated all the targets for Accor SA and Edenred it gave investors last month.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan

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