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LONDON- Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts has sold the Hotel Ritz in Madrid for €125 million ($140 million). The 167-room property has been acquired by a 50/50 joint venture between Orient-Express Hotels and Spanish investment company Omega Capital. Orient-Express hotels will operate the hotel under a long-term management contract.

According to Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, which acted on behalf of the vendor, hotels transaction volume in Spain in the year to date already exceeds the total volume in 2002, following the sale of Le Méridien Barcelona to the German open-ended fund DEKA in January. These sales demonstrate the ongoing interest of investors in assets with a strong track record in prime locations.

Jordi Frigola, Senior Vice President at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels said: “The fragmented nature of the Spanish hotel market suggests that there may be further opportunities for brand consolidation and investment in 2003 if the independent owner-operators choose to dispose of any of their assets, but future activity will depend on the availability of attractive product to buy – there is certainly no shortage of money for investment.  This is likely to continue for as long as the stock markets are performing badly.”

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