Intercontinental Hotels to return $350m to shareholders

A Holiday Inn hotel
Image caption Intercontinental Hotels' chains have performed well in the first half

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has said it will return $350m (£227m) to shareholders through a special dividend after enjoying strong trading.

Both revenues and profits increased in the first half of the year, aided by good demand in the US.

It said operating profit for the first six months of 2013 rose 20% to $338m, beating analysts' expectations.

IHG operates over 4,600 hotels worldwide, including the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Intercontinental brands

The group said the $350m special dividend would be paid in October along with the interim dividend, which itself was increased by 10%.

"Our global scale has allowed us to reinvest in the business whilst growing margins, resulting in solid underlying profit gains led by our Americas region, and strong cash flows," said chief executive Richard Solomons.

Revenue increased 7% to $936m, while global revenue per available room (RevPAR) - a key industry measure - rose 3.7%.

In the firm's core US market, RevPAR grew by 4.5%, compared to growth of just 0.4% in Europe.

In China, a focal point for the firm's future growth, RevPAR fell slightly, which the company put down to a combination of natural disasters in Western China in the second quarter and tougher macroeconomic conditions.

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