Wyndham International Inc. has agreed to be acquired by an affiliate of Blackstone Group. The New-York based private equity group has purchased three lodging properties this year--Extended Stay America, Prime Hospitality and Boca Resorts. The deal is valued at $3.24 billion, making it the "largest ever buy-out in the global hotel and casino industries (FT.com)

Dallas-based Wyndham operates upscale hotels and luxury resorts, including Golden Door Spas at The Boulders Resort in Carefee, Arizona, Wyndham Peaks Resort in Telluride, Colorado, and Wyndham Conquistador Resort in Las Croabas, Puerto Rico. In addition to its flagship brand, Wyndham operates about 20 franchised hotels under such well-known brands as Doubletree, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt, and Marriott. The hotel company recently sold about 185 properties for $2.7 billion as it sought to cut debt and refinance, and it was rumored that the company had been entertaining other industry "suitors", including Starwood, Marriott, and Intercontinental Hotels Group.

The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2005, subject to shareholder and antitrust approvals. The Wyndham deal is the latest in a series of merger and acquisition deals in the hotel industry over the past year. There were more mergers and acquisitions of hotel companies or brands in 2004 than any year since 1998, when M&A activity peaked at 25 deals totaling almost $35 billion. Last year, a total of 10 deals worth about $12 billion took place.

PricewaterhouseCooper lodging analyst Bjorn Hanson said he expects five to 11 deals in 2005. 'As the lodging industry continues to strengthen in 2005, capital market activity will remain strong,' Hanson said. Some of the elements driving the M&A activity in the industry include forecasts of continued growth in revenue per room and profits in 2006 and beyond, a growing perception the lodging industry is less risky than it was in the past, and limited growth in new supply, Hanson said.