Choice and Wyndham could be in for a fight over takeover bid

The high-profile corporate saga between Choice Hotels International and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts came to a head on Dec. 12, when Choice announced a hostile takeover attempt.

And according to at least one industry analyst, the two sides are likely heading into battle. 

Robert Cole, Phocuswright’s senior research analyst for lodging and leisure travel, said both parties “intend to prevail.”

“I think Wyndham’s thinking that they can successfully fight it off,” Cole said. “While Choice is working to win the hearts and minds of the franchisees, the investment community and everybody else. I think it’s ultimately going to get fought out and basically become a decision by the creditors, because there are questions being raised about the amount of debt involved.”

Since October, Choice’s offer for Wyndham has remained unchanged, comprising $49.50 in cash and 0.324 shares of Choice common stock per Wyndham share. Shareholders have the flexibility to choose between cash, shares or a combination.

The offer is set to expire March 8, unless terms are extended or terminated.

“Wyndham is saying that they don’t think [the offer] is enough,” Cole said. “But Choice is saying that it’s above their current share price and that that seems fair, and so you have that sort of back-and-forth happening.”

But the major wild card, Cole contends, will be related to government approval.

“This could take forever when it comes to regulatory scrutiny,” he said. “And the question is whether the Federal Trade Commission is really going to say, ‘Hey, you guys are pretty big in the hospitality sector.’ But at the same time, if you look at things from a global scale, Choice and Wyndham aren’t the biggest players in terms of number of rooms. You can make arguments for both sides.”

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