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Ashford Hospitality Trust Acquiring 51 Hotels for $2.4 billion in Cash;
A Transformational Investment 
By Suzanne Marta, The Dallas Morning NewsMcClatchy-Tribune Business News

Jan. 19, 2007 - --Dallas-based Ashford Hospitality Trust Inc. said Friday morning that it has agreed to buy 51 hotels for $2.4 billion in cash in a deal that would make it into one of the nation's largest real estate investment trusts.

The company said the deal, which includes 24 full-service upper-upscale hotels and 27 premium limited service hotels in 18 states, Washington D.C. and Canada, significantly diversifies Ashford's portfolio in terms of geography, brand and management mix and called it a "transformational investment."

The acquisition would also expand Ashford's reach among high-end hotels in markets that have had the biggest potential for revenue growth.

The deal includes properties that are part of Morgan Stanley Real Estate's acquisition of CNL Hotels and Resorts, a transaction that is expected to close during the second quarter of this year.

"This transaction gives us the opportunity to extend our proven investment and portfolio management strategies on a much larger platform," Monty J. Bennett, Ashford's president and chief executive.

The company said the deal was expected to add 35 cents a share in funds from operations -- a measure of cash flow for real estate investment trusts -- on a full-year basis in the first year.

E-mail smarta@dallasnews.com

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Dallas Morning News

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