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Whitbread-Travelodge merger 50-60 pct likely to happen

LONDON (Thomson Financial) - The mooted merger between Whitbread's Premier Inn and Travelodge is 50 to 60 pct likely to happen, according to sources close to the talks, The Times reported. Whitbread is in early-stage talks to acquire its rival from Dubai International Capital (DIC) in a cash-and-shares deal worth an estimated 600-700 mln stg. A source close to the process told the newspaper: It has got beyond a conversation, and there is a willingness to progress, but none of the important issues have been agreed yet. For example, how do you value the site pipeline? One leading institutional investor is said to be against a deal, the newspaper said. The institution, which asked not to be named, said there was a risk Whitbread would pay a much higher multiple for Travelodge than the multiple for Premier Inn implied by the current Whitbread share price, The Times said. Neither Whitbread nor DIC would comment, The Times said, but a source close to Whitbread told the newspaper that the company would not pay "last year's price for this year's acquisition". ps/ra COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Financial News Limited 2008. All rights reserved. The copying, republication or redistribution of Thomson Financial News Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Financial News.

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