Belmond’s board had made it clear earlier this year that it was open to offers.

By Grace Dobush
December 14, 2018
Todd Gipstein Corbis via Getty Images

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world leader in luxury goods, is acquiring London-based luxury hotel brand Belmond Group for $25 cash per share, a few bucks above its most recent stock closing price. That values Belmond’s equity at $2.6 billion, and the enterprise including debt at $3.2 billion.

Belmond Group, until 2014 known as Orient Express Hotels, owns such luxury hotel properties as the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro and the Hotel Cipriani in Venice. It also operates luxury cruises and train services.

LVMH is the parent company of fashion houses including Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, and Givenchy, as well as premium spirits, cosmetics, and fragrances. So far its hospitality business includes the Bulgari hotel brand and Cheval Blanc, a collection of luxury properties, and the purchase of Belmond will expand this business.

Belmond’s board had made it clear earlier this year that it was open to offers. The Wall Street Journal reported late last night that bidding for Belmond had been dominated by Middle Eastern and Asian government funds, big hotel brands and private-equity firms over the past few weeks. In 2013, Belmond shrugged off a $1.2 billion bid for the company from the Tata Group of India.

Belmond is rich in one-of-a-kind assets — it’s rare for a hotel company to own the properties it manages these days — but at the end of Q3 this year it was also carrying $746.5 million in debt. LVMH expects to complete the transaction in the first half of 2019, pending approval from Belmond’s shareholders and relevant competition authorities.

In a statement released by LVMH, CEO Bernard Arnault said: “Belmond delivers unique experiences to discerning travelers and owns a number of exceptional assets in the most desirable destinations. Its heritage, its innovative services, its excellence in execution and its entrepreneurship resonates well with the values of the group and is complementary to our own Cheval Blanc maisons and the Bvlgari hotels activities. This acquisition will significantly increase LVMH’s presence in the ultimate hospitality world.”

Advertisement