$210 million Gaylord-Marriott deal faces new foe -- Gazette.Net


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This story was corrected on Sept. 21, 2012. An explanation follows the story.

Another major stockholder of Gaylord Entertainment hopes to put the kibosh on its plans to sell its brand and hotel management contracts to Marriott International of Bethesda, including those for Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor in Oxon Hill.

But a hotel analyst says the effort likely will fail.

In June, the Nashville, Tenn., company and Marriott announced the $210 million deal, which also calls for Gaylord shareholders to approve their company’s conversion to a real estate investment trust. Gaylord owns four hotels, including Gaylord National. Stockholders are set to vote on the deal Tuesday.

Gabelli Funds of Rye, N.Y., which holds 15.12 percent of Gaylord’s stock, is the second major shareholder to come out against the deal, according to published reports.

But TRT Holdings of Irving, Texas, Gaylord’s largest stockholder with 20 percent, which announced its opposition in July, has since changed its mind.

In exchange for dropping its opposition, TRT sold 5 million shares of Gaylord stock at $37 each back to Gaylord last month and agreed not to purchase any Gaylord shares or seek representation on the hotel’s board for three years, according to HotelNewsNow, a publication of STR.

TRT representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

TRT originally had suggested Gaylord continue “to operate in the current format, with streamlined operations and a robust growth strategy” for “future stockholder value creation and the preservation of options for future value-creating transactions.”

“TRT could see the writing on the wall. They knew this was going to happen,” said Shawn Turner, finance editor for HotelNewsNow.

Gabelli has proposed spinning off assets related to Gaylord’s Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, according to HotelNewsNow.

Turner said Gabelli’s move means less now that TRT is on board with the deal.

“It certainly makes everything more interesting, but having TRT under their belt is a big deal. [Gaylord] should have the shares they need to get this pushed through,” he said. “Still, a lot can happen between then and now.”

Turner also said Gabelli might be hoping for a deal similar to TRT’s.

“This became official in August,” he said.

Gaylord officials did not reply to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, the Peterson Cos. of Fairfax, Va., which owns National Harbor, is working to buy back 15 acres it sold to the Walt Disney Co.

Disney had bought the land for $11 million in 2009 for a 500-room resort hotel, but pulled out of the deal last year.

Peterson is close to buying back the land for the same price, spokeswoman Angela Sweeney told The Gazette in an email.

lrobbins@gazette.net

Explanation: The original version misstated the number of hotels owned by Gaylord Entertainment and the owner of HotelNewsNow, and misspelled Gabelli.