The Real Deal New York

Morgans Hotel shareholder Rambleside slams potential deal

Investment firm CEO pens critical letter to Morgans' board of directors

August 17, 2015 12:00PM
By Ariel Stulberg

From left: The Hudson Hotel, owned by Morgans, and chairman Howard Lorber

An activist investor in Morgans Hotel Group threw a rhetorical grenade at the company, lambasting its potential merger and suggesting the company and its holdings should be sold lock, stock and barrel.

Gregory Cohen, CEO of Rambleside Holdings, one of the largest shareholders in the Morgans Hotel Group, addressed the group’s board in hopes of pre-empting an unnamed deal.

Morgans has been in merger talks with Sam Nazarian’s SBE Entertainment Group, a major hotel owner in Los Angeles, according to multiple outlets.

“We are deeply concerned that the potential transaction would substantially undervalue the Company and any breakup fee or other limitation on the Company’s ability to pursue strategic alternatives will further risk shareholder value,” wrote Cohen, addressing the board and its chairman, Howard Lorber.

The letter suggests an alternative course, “a widely marketed sale process and/or merging the management company with a world class hotel and brand manager,” but doesn’t offer specifics about alternative buyers or merger partners.

Cohen wrote that Rambleside would gladly participate in an alternate detail, and expressed regret that the company, according to Cohen, hadn’t been included to this point.

Morgans, which owns luxury hotel brands like the Delano, the Mondrian Soho and Hudson Hotel, has been seeking a buyer or merger partner for years. In May, the company’s interem CEO Jason Kalisman resigned his post. CFO Richard Szymanski took on his duties.

Rambleside’s Cohen has played the role of the activist investor before, composing a similar letter to New York REIT in June.