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DALLAS-As promised, Ashford Hospitality Trust Inc. and CNL Hotels & Resorts Inc. have swapped $465 million in cash for 30 Marriott-branded hotels in 16 states. Now, plans are being made to pump another $34 million into 20 assets in the coming two years.

According to the Ashford’s early morning press release, the exchange, bringing $107,000 per key for 4,328 rooms, was financed with a $370-million, 10-year loan at a fixed rate of 5.32% interest from Merrill Lynch Mortgage Lending Inc. The balance is coming from cash on hand, the sale of nearly 6.7 million shares of preferred stock to Security Capital Preferred Growth Inc. and exercising an option to sell 2.1 million shares of common stock to the Greenwich, CT-based investment group. The second stock sale is expected to close July 1.

“The timely closing of this transaction, combined with the continued strong performance of the hotels in the portfolio and the attractive financing we secured, has positioned us for strong growth in 2005 and beyond,” Monty J. Bennett, president and CEO of the Dallas-based Ashford, says in the press release. “Our recent decision to increase our second quarter dividend was a direct result of the favorable outlook at these hotels and their expected positive impact on our operations.” The portfolio was acquired at a trailing 12-month net NOI cap rate of 8.5%, according to Ashford.

The local REIT’s plan is to spend about $18 million this year on renovations and $16 million in 2006. The majority of work will be done at 13 Residence Inns, situated in nine states, and seven TownePlace suites in six states. The rest of the package is made up of six Courtyards by Marriott in five states and four SpringHill Suites by Marriott in three states. As previously reported, the Washington, DC-based Marriott International Inc. will hold onto management under a performance-based agreement. For previous story, click here.

Ashford execs couldn’t be reached by publication time to determine if any of the just-bought hotels will be set up for resale. The hotels, on average, are pushing nine years old, most built between 1997 and 2000. The portfolio’s 2004 occupancy was 75.1%. The average daily room rate is $93.65 and RevPAR, $70.37. The acquisition from the Orlando-headquartered CNL takes Ashford’s portfolio to 77 hotels with 12,769 rooms in 27 markets in 16 states.

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