Von Essen Hotels sales fail to deliver target price tags

The Von Essen Hotels group portfolio of properties has failed to meet expected sales prices after the company was taken into administration last year.

Ston Easton Park among properties in Von Essen Group sell-off
Ston Easton Park among properties in Von Essen Group sell-off

All 28 of the group’s properties have now been sold for a total sum of around £150m, with the latest sales of Ston Easton Park in Bath and Sharrow Bay in Cumbria to entrepreneur James Caan fetching £4.5m. They were on the market for £5m each.

The business collapsed with debts which amount to around £295m, including borrowing from Lloyds and Barclays.

Ernst & Young’s Alan Bloom, Chris Marsden and Angela Swarbrick were appointed joint administrators to Von Essen Hotels Limited in April 2011. However, the hotels were not in administration and continued to trade as usual.

It was originally hoped that the sums raised from sales of all the hotels would reach more than £200m.

Agent Christie & Co was appointed in June last year to sell the properties, with managing director Chris Day anticipating that interest would be "intense".

Properties sold off include the 41-bedroom Cliveden House in Berkshire, which fetched nearly £30m from Chewton Glen owners Ian and Richard Livingstone, on a long lease from the National Trust.

According to Christie & Co's Peter Fermoy, "owners, financiers and operators are coming to terms with the fact that hotels need to be more realistically and pragmatically priced".

Fermoy said: "First, it was not an easy portfolio to value as there were no real figures available. Second, it was apparent fairly early on that we were not going to sell the hotels as a portfolio but rather in small groups an individual sites instead. Thirdly, some of the final prices paid were also affected by the estimated costs of repairs and refurbishments that some buyers placed on the assets they acquired."

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