The boss of a leading property and hotel group has won the multi-million pound race for control of Belfry owner De Vere.
Malmaison and Hotel du Vin chief Richard Balfour-Lynn fought off interest from private equity firm Permira to clinch a deal to buy De Vere for £723.5 million.
De Vere is the operator of 19 hotels including The Belfry golf and hotel complex in the West Midlands.
The company said the 825p-a-share offer from Mr Balfour-Lynn's privately owned investment firm Alternative Hotels Group (AHG) was "fair and reasonable" and "in the best interests of De Vere shareholders".
The agreement came after Permira said it was prepared to bid up to 840p-a-share for De Vere. However, the indicative offer from Permira is understood to have been dismissed as too conditional by the De Vere board.
Yesterday the board said that subject to clearance from the Pensions Regulator it would unanimously recom-mend the AHG bid to its shareholders.
The 825p-a-share bid represents a premium of 25 per cent on De Vere's average closing share price in the six
months leading up to the offer and is marginally above the current level of 814.5p.
Mr Balfour-Lynn said: "We are delighted that we have reached agreement with De Vere on the terms of the offer which is at a significant premium to the share price prior to the recent bid speculation.
"De Vere is complementary to our existing hotel and conference business and we believe our considerable experience in leisure and property management will help develop the De Vere business."
Mr Balfour-Lynn is chief executive of Marylebone Warwick Balfour, which owns the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin hotels, including the Mailbox outlet of Malmaison and Church Street Hotel du Vin in Birmingham. It also own the the five star Park Lane Marriott hotel in London and the Liberty department store in Regent Street.
Mr Balfour-Lynn was one of the investors involved in the £325 million takeover of Rent-okil Initial's conference venues business in November.
De Vere also has a string of Village leisure hotels, the health and fitness brand Greens and the gin maker G&J Greenall. In March, MWB announced it had converted a £6.6 million loss into a pretax profit of £2.7 million.
The company said turnover for the half year rose by 11 per cent to £124.2 million.
Chairman Eric Sanderson said the £9.3 million profit turnaround reflected positive trading performances. Birmingham is the only city with a Malmaison and Hotel du Vin.
The first half of the group's financial year saw a new 94-room Malmaison created from the former Oxford gaol with a further two in Liverpool and Reading. Two more Hotel du Vin sites had been acquired at Cambridge and York.
M W B h a d r a i s e d £105 million of new equity and debt from Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland to finance further growth.
Room occupancy was steady at 78 per cent at Malmaison and rose to 87 per cent at Hotel du Vin. Average room rates hit £103 and £111. The division's food and beverage operations performed strongly, advancing 16 per cent to £15.5 millioN. ..SUPL: