MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish hotel group Hesperia has hired JP Morgan to advise on options for its 8 percent stake in domestic peer NH Hoteles, currently the target of a takeover offer from Thai firm Minor International, two sources familiar with the matter said.
The move from Hesperia, which has said Minor’s 6.3 euros per share offer for NH Hoteles was insufficient, comes as the Thai company nears majority control of NH with 45 percent of its share capital.
Derailing Minor’s bid would be highly complicated at this stage. Spanish law dictates that a holder of more than 30 percent in any one company must launch a takeover offer, and the Thai firm is buying more NH shares every day.
U.S. operator Hyatt Hotels moved toward a takeover battle for NH in July, but backed away just three days later after Minor revealed the size of its stake.
One of the sources said JP Morgan, which advised China’s HNA Group on the sale of a 26.5 percent stake in NH to Minor in June, had approached other potential investors to try to muster a counter offer.
“They realize it would be difficult, but they see some chance,” the source said.
Minor’s offer put a value of up to 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) on NH, which runs more than 370 hotels in 30 countries. The offer has been approved by Spanish and Portuguese competition watchdogs, but NH said the offer undervalued it.
The mandate given by Hesperia to JP Morgan includes various options ranging from putting together a competing bid, to striking a partnership with Minor or simply selling the stake, the sources said.
Hesperia and JP Morgan declined to comment.
NH turned down a takeover in January from a different Spanish rival, Barcelo, which had valued it at 2.48 billion euros.
($1 = 0.8653 euros)
Reporting by Andres Gonzalez; Writing by Julien Toyer and Isla Binnie; Editing by Mark Potter