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US hospitality company Sonesta International Hotels Corporation (Sonesta) has signed a definitive agreement to acquire hotel franchise company RLH Corporation.

Based in the US, RLH Corporation has more than 900 hotels in its portfolio.

Once completed, the combined entity will have approximately 1,200 hotels under various brands across multiple market segments, making Sonesta one of the largest hotel companies in the US.

Financial details of the transaction are not disclosed.

Sonesta president and CEO Carlos Flores said: “Sonesta started 2020 as a manager of 58 hotels under three Sonesta-specific brands in the US. Upon the completion of hotel conversions previously announced and the acquisition of RLH, Sonesta will become one of the largest hotel companies in the US, with approximately 1,200 hotels under a diverse set of 13 brands in multiple market segments. Whereas all of Sonesta’s hotels in the US are currently self-managed, the acquisition of RLH significantly accelerates Sonesta’s hotel franchising capabilities by adding a franchise platform with more than 900 hotels.”

Completion of the deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of RLH’s shareholders. It is envisaged to be completed in the first half of 2021.

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The deal is expected to be financed with cash-on-hand and/or through capital contributions from its shareholders.

In addition to the agreement, Sonesta announced that it will be appointing hotel industry veteran Keith Pierce as executive vice-president, president of Franchise & Development.

“With the addition of Keith to our leadership team, we also have an experienced executive ready to manage the RLH business upon closing this transaction and we are well positioned to grow Sonesta’s franchising business in the future,” Flores added.

Hunton Andrews Kurth acted as legal counsel to Sonesta in the transaction.