I want shareholders to think about something. Think about how different Ashford Hospitality Prime looks depending on the outcome of the proxy fight.
Let’s say that the likely outcome occurs: management is wisely left in place. You have a Board of Directors with a combined 45 years of Director experience and a combined 140 years of hospitality experience; that is seeking to sell 4 non-core assets, repurchase up to $50 million in stock, hire a new CEO, and add new independent Board members.
Regardless of where the hotel sector goes in the next few years, you have management steering the company to results that are likely to reflect what it has done in the past: deliver RevPAR growth at or near the highest level of its peers. They will continue to have the highest insider ownership of any hotel REIT, by far, thus acting in both their and our interest. They will continue to build on the property-level relationships they already have.
This, by the way, is why Sessa Capital’s proxy fight is so bizarre. Management has 14-15% ownership of AHP stock themselves! Why wouldn’t they work in their own best interest? To suggest that Chairman Monty Bennett isn’t using his 26+ years of hospitality experience to further our interests is just…weird.
Finally, what happens if the hotel industry takes a downturn? We already saw how successfully Bennett steered Ashford Hospitality Trust through the worst hotel downturn in modern history during the financial crisis.
Now, contrast this to what happens if Sessa Capital’s slate of nominees takes over. They have zero hospitality experience. They have no relationships with any brands, any managers, or any property-level managers or staff. They have no idea what to do if the industry suddenly takes a downturn. They have no idea how to maintain current properties or continue to wring maximum value out of them.
These are the people you want running your hotel company?