Blackstone's La Quinta Checks Into Public Markets

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Hotel chain operator La Quinta Holdings (LQ), backed by the Blackstone Group, priced its initial public offering shares at $17 each late Tuesday.

The pricing fell below the initial $18 to $21 per share it anticipated in March in regulatory filings, putting an equity value on the chain of up to $2.5 billion. At $17 per share, La Quinta will have a market value of around $2.1 billion.

The chain is going to sell 38.25 million shares, raising about $618 million after underwriter discounts and commissions. The company is going to use the proceeds to pay down about $2.7 billion in long-term debt.

Its stock opened Wednesday below pricing at $16.75 per share on the New York Stock Exchange.

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The underwriters hold a 30-day overallotment option to buy up to an additional 5.7 million shares. Blackstone is going to own a 64% stake in La Quinta after the offering is completed, assuming the underwriters exercise their option.

Irving, Texas-based La Quinta operates 834 hotels, most of them franchised, that hold more than 84,000 rooms across North America, Mexico, Colombia and Honduras.

In 2013, La Quinta generated an adjusted Ebitda of $326.8 million on $873.9 million in revenue compared to an adjusted Ebitda of $297.8 million on $818 million in revenue for 2012.

Blackstone acquired La Quinta in 2006 for $3.4 billion in cash and debt.

The private equity firm has had a field day with hotel properties as the travel industry, especially for bread-and-butter business travelers, revived during the recovery. Last year, Blackstone took both Extended Stay America Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. public.

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