Hotel sale shows that small is beautiful

Thistle Hotels wanted to make its biggest disposal of properties ever – the #56m sale to Lehman Brothers Holdings of 30 provincial hotels throughout the UK. But the deal did not go to a big City firm. Instead it opted for Russell Davidson, a sole practitioner who has offices in Harrogate.

Thistle stayed with Davidson when he left Dibb Lupton Broomhead (as it was then) to set up his own firm four years ago.

The hotels will be run under a management contract by Peel Hotels, which was represented by Kevin McGuinness of Nicholson Graham & Jones.

Lehman Brothers Holdings was advised by Patrick Plant of Linklaters.

“Thistle wanted to concentrate on its better performing hotels, especially in London, and to return cash to its shareholders,” Davidson said.

What made the deal, which took three months to complete, even more unusual was the contract race which developed between two rival bidders – Lehmans and Peel Hotels on the one hand, and Menzies Hotels, advised by Richard Cowan of Amery-Parkes, on the other. Davidson said the deal was won more by a quick response than by price.

The deal included the transfer of 1,000 staff and the redundancy of one senior executive. Davidson was advised by former Dibbs colleague Jill Andrew of Langley & Co on employment law. Davidson, who was assisted by Julia Williams, said it proved size and location were not crucial if you could get the job done.