Skift Take

Morgans survived the boutique hotel boom and crash, but its challenges on the customer service front has made it difficult to transition its young, hip guets into loyal visitors.

Morgans Hotel Group Co., a hotelier embroiled in a proxy battle with its largest stockholder, climbed to a two-year high after saying it has received interest in a takeover and would consider a sale.

The company’s board nominees plan to explore strategic alternatives, including a sale, if they are re-elected, New York-based Morgans said today in a statement. The company, which operates hotels including the Mondrian in Los Angeles and the Delano in Miami’s South Beach, said it has received unsolicited expressions of interest in a takeover from five investors.

Morgans shares jumped 13 percent to $7.51 at 11:34 a.m. in New York. They earlier rose to $7.88, the highest intraday price since June 2011. The stock has gained 36 percent this year.

“Morgans’s Delano, Mondrian and Hudson brands would be desirable brands for better-capitalized, larger hotel franchisors seeking to grow their room pipeline in the boutique segment,” Stephen Altebrando, an analyst at Sidoti & Co. in New York, said in a research note. “A combination would also eliminate the company’s high debt costs and provide capital to expand the management pipeline.”

Altebrando has a buy rating on Morgans stock.

OTK Associates LLC, which owns about 14 percent of Morgans’s shares, is seeking to overhaul the board to try to return the company to profitability. Morgans, which includes 13 boutique hotels, has lost money in every quarter since 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Burkle deal

OTK in April sued board members over a recapitalization deal with billionaire Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. Jason Taubman Kalisman, a founding member of OTK, is currently a director. He has a slate of seven nominees to the board, which will be decided at the company’s annual meeting June 14.

Morgans’s hotels would be attractive to operators seeking to add boutique brands, said Chris Agnew, a Stamford, Connecticut-based analyst at MKM Partners LLC. The company said last month it had received a $7.50-a-share takeover offer from a “large international hotel company” late last year that it rejected as too low.

“Everyone is interested in the younger generation today and is looking at how to make their brands relevant and attractive to this type of consumer,” said Agnew, who has a neutral rating on the stock. “Morgans has these brands that quite neatly fit into this category.”

Morgans last week said its board voted to end a poison-pill plan and instated a new policy requiring shareholder approval of any future rights provision. Poison pills are used to discourage takeover bids by making companies less attractive to potential buyers.

Editors: Kara Wetzel, Christine Maurus. To contact the reporters on this story: Nadja Brandt in Los Angeles at [email protected]; Brian Louis in Chicago at [email protected]. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at [email protected]

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Tags: morgans

Photo credit: Hudson Hotel Lobby. Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

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