News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Jeff McCready, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 17, 2004 - Crown Hotels is hoping to reinvent itself while staying in Johnstown as the operation looks to sell stock in a new company.
Chairman Mark Pasquerilla said hotel stocks have taken a temporary hit because of bombings in Spain. But, he said, that appears to be a minor setback considering that the American economy is generally improving and that he should know within a couple of months if his hotel business will be listed on New York Stock Exchange through an initial public offering.
"Exploring an IPO at this time makes sense," Pasquerilla said in a telephone interview from Crown American Hotels headquarters, Pasquerilla Plaza, downtown Johnstown.
"We're doing a lot of the background work."
Pasquerilla said Crown's 27 hotels -- which include Holiday Inn, 250 Market St., Johnstown, and Holiday Inn Express, 1440 Scalp Ave. in Richland Township -- are more dependent on business travelers than tourists.
Crown American Realty, an owner of malls that was traded on the New York exchange, was sold by Pasquerilla last year to Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust of Philadelphia, also a publicly held company. But Crown Hotels has been privately held by the Pasquerilla family since its formation in 1965.
Pasquerilla hopes to transform Crown Hotels into a real-estate investment trust, similar to Crown American Realty that owned and operated malls, including Logan Valley in Altoona.
"I'm not surprised to hear that," Glen Campbell, manager of the local office of Parker/Hunter, a stockbrokerage at 416 Main St., Johnstown, said when told that Crown Hotels might be going public. "That could be a good move."
Campbell said that could be an indication that Crown wants to raise capital to grow. An IPO is a way to do that.
Pasquerilla said it makes sense to be on the NYSE because that is where most REITs are listed. The former Crown REIT, which went public in 1993, also was on that exchange.
In December, F.N.B. Corp., a bank holding company, moved to the NYSE from Nasdaq to gain better exposure. An F.N.B. spin-off, First National Bankshares of Florida went public in January on the New York exchange.
The former sister company was traded on the NYSE until the completion of its sale in November to PREIT. The Crown REIT also was headquartered in the downtown Crown building.
PREIT is in the process of phasing out operations in Johnstown. Yesterday, PREIT announced that it had agreed to buy The Gallery at Market East II, a popular shopping plaza in center city Philadelphia, for $32 million.
The purchase from the state's Public School Employees' Retirement System is expected to be completed during the second quarter of this year.
"We're starting to see a pickup in our business," Pasquerilla said.
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(c) 2004, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. PEI, FNB,