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Talks Break Off for Sale of Beverly Hilton Hotel

July 18, 2003|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

Discussions between former TV talk-show host Merv Griffin and a potential buyer for his Beverly Hilton hotel have been terminated, both parties announced Thursday.

Griffin had announced earlier this month that he was in talks with Probity International Corp. to sell the Beverly Hills landmark. Probity, based in Beverly Hills, has developed a number of commercial and residential properties in the Los Angeles area and is the managing partner of the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel.

The Beverly Hilton is "an exceptional asset," Probity Chief Executive Robert Zarnegin said when negotiations still were underway. The sale, he said two weeks ago, would be "an unparalleled opportunity to renovate and reposition" the hotel at Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards.

Neither Griffin nor Zarnegin would comment further Thursday.

Griffin, 77, has owned the Beverly Hilton for 16 years, having purchased the hotel in 1987 from Barron Hilton, son of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton.

Griffin created the game shows "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy." In 1986 he sold the game shows and turned to real estate, buying and selling 14 hotels during the 1990s.

The 48-year-old Beverly Hilton has an excellent location, hotel consultant Alan Reay said, but "would definitely need a tremendous renovation," possibly including more rooms and the addition of retail space, to compete against such hotels as the Peninsula and Four Seasons.

The current real estate market does not favor hotel sellers, said Reay, president of Costa Mesa-based Atlas Hospitality, because occupancy and room rates are down, especially at higher-end hotels.

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