French hotel and services group Accor laid out its plan to split later this year, with hotels taking on the bulk of group debt while it will sell non-strategic assets such as a casino stake.
Accor, which wants to become one the world's top three hotel groups by 2015, made the announcement as sluggish demand for its mid-sector and upmarket hotels slashed 2009 operating profit and the dividend.
Accor wants to separate the hotels, with brands from luxury Sofitels to budget Ibis and Motel 6, from its prepaid services business, which provides luncheon and childcare vouchers.
The move is aimed at helping the operationally geared hotels business to shed real estate and assets to boost cash while giving the cash-rich, defensive prepaid services business more freedom to invest and grow.
The two businesses will be listed separately from July after shareholders vote on the split on June 29.
Earlier, it had indicated the spilt could take place in 2010 "at the earliest".
The split, agreed by the board in December, was urged by key shareholders Eurazeo and Colony Capital, which own a combined 30 per cent but was opposed by the French FSI strategic fund, which has 7.5 per cent.
The world's fourth-largest hotel group, whose rivals include the InterContinental, Marriott, Hilton and Starwood chains, said it would allocate the bulk of a €1.6 billion (Dh5.8bn) debt burden at end-2009 to hotels.
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