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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Red Lion outlines attempts at sale, merger

Critics seek changes; Barbieris to retire

Red Lion Hotels Corp. managers said Tuesday that they’ve contacted more than 70 potential buyers but have failed to find offers to buy the hospitality chain.

The effort is a response to investors urging the sale of the hotels, and included contacting possible merger partners. The outreach resulted in “a limited number of non-binding indications of interest, but (we) did not ultimately receive any offers,” a statement said.

Red Lion’s search to find a buyer followed the publicly traded company’s hiring this spring of Bank of America Merrill Lynch to “develop strategic alternatives” as Red Lion struggled to increase its market share.

Last week, Red Lion’s largest single investor, Columbia Pacific Opportunity Fund, based in Seattle, said it might seek to oust the company’s directors unless more assets were sold.

The Columbia Pacific filing on Friday said Red Lion managers had not given an adequate summary of its efforts to maximize stockholder value. Columbia Pacific owns about 29 percent of Red Lion’s common stock.

Tuesday’s release also said company board chair and first CEO Donald K. Barbieri will retire at the end of 2012. He has served as board chairman since 1996.

His brother, Richard L. Barbieri, also will retire from the board Dec. 31 unless the board appoints a replacement sooner. Richard Barbieri was the firm’s general counsel and became a board member in 1978.

Both brothers were named by investor group Somerset Capital in a letter released this year. The letter said the Barbieris and CEO Jon Eliassen should be removed from the board for ineffective management.

Eliassen said in Tuesday’s release Red Lion will continue its focus on selling properties and reducing debt.

Red Lion owns or leases more than 40 hotels in nine Western states and British Columbia.