By Inti Landauro
PARIS (Reuters) - French luxury goods group Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy has agreed to buy luxury hotel group Belmond in a deal valuing the company at $3.2 billion (2.5 billion pounds).
LVMH said it would pay $25 per Belmond share, a 40-percent premium over the Thursday closing price.
The operation, which is expected to close in the first half of 2019, values Belmond's equity at $2.6 billion, and the group, including debt, at $3.2 billion.
Belmond's "heritage, its innovative services, its excellence in execution and its entrepreneurship resonates well with the values of the (LVMH) Group and is complementary to our own Cheval Blanc maisons and the Bvlgari hotels activities," LVMH's Chief Executive and Chairman Bernard Arnault said in a statement.
LVMH, which owns fashion labels, prestigious drinks brands and iconic jewellery makers, is relatively small in the luxury hotels sector where its assets include its Cheval Blanc hotel in the luxury ski resort Courchevel in the Alps.
Belmond owns, partly owns or manages 46 luxury hotels, restaurants, train and river cruise properties. Among the most iconic properties the group operates the only hotel within the Machu Picchu citadel in southern Peru.
The company posted $140 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization out of $572 million in revenue in the 12-month period ending on Sept 30.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Leigh Thomas/Keith Weir)