Extended Stay director nominees say Blackstone deal undervalues company

BOSTON (Reuters) – The three directors who have been nominated to the board at Extended Stay America Inc said on Tuesday that a proposed sale undervalues the company and they can help create value as board members if the company remains independent.

“We believe we can help the Company create value for shareholders that is well in excess of $19.50 per share,” said the three men, who were nominated to the board by Tarsadia Capital LLC, before the company announced plans to sell itself to Blackstone Group and Starwood Capital Group for $6 billion.

Ross Bierkan, Stephen Joyce and Michael Leven, who have lodging industry experience, are speaking out for the first time and joining a chorus of investors opposing this sale.

Blackstone and Starwood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

They said they are acting independently of Tarsadia, the family office that owns 3.9% of Extended Stay and nominated them to the board, and of each other, in the letter seen by Reuters.

“We believe a standalone Extended Stay has a significant opportunity to create value for shareholders, if the Company pursues the right strategy and executes it well,” they wrote.

The trio said the company is expected to benefit from an upswing in travel and demand for lodging after the pandemic.

Specifically they say they see value in the company’s real estate and think new unit growth can be accelerated through better collaboration with developers and franchisees. They leave open the door to a sale.

Capital expenditure needs would be manageable and opportunities would include “both asset sales or a sale of the whole Company,” the letter said.

Leven was president of Las Vegas Sands, Joyce was chief executive officer of Choice hotels where he oversaw the franchise system and Bierkan was CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust.

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