April 2006

easyHotel has signed a Master Franchise Agreement with Istithmar Hotels, a subsidiary of Istithmar PJSC - an alternative investment house based in Dubai - to open a chain of 38 budget hotels across the Middle East, North Africa, India and Pakistan within the next 5 years.

easyHotel is part of the easyGroup of companies based in London which also includes easyJet the low cost airline. All easyGroup companies were founded by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the serial entrepreneur.

easyHotel opened its first hotel in London in August 2005 and a second one in Switzerland in September 2005. It offers short-stay travellers a safe and quality option at around £40 a night in central London, about half the price of other branded budget hotels. Designed for city centres, it offers consumers a recognised brand that delivers a standardised high quality product and banks on customers accepting small, no-frills and simply furnished rooms. All easyHotel bookings are taken by credit card through the easyHotel.com website.

The agreement with Istithmar will now expand the easyHotel brand across the Arab-speaking world as well as the Indian sub-continent. This matches the market demand for branded budget hotels in view of the exponential growth in the mid-scale segment across these regions and will help to maintain visitor growth in the years to come. The specific countries where easyHotel will be present are: Dubai (6), India (8), Saudi Arabia (3), Pakistan (3), Lebanon (2), Egypt (2), and one each in Sharjah, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Qatar, Morocco, Turkey, Syria, Libya, Jordan, Tunisia and Algeria. 8 of these hotels will be operational by the end of 2007 and a further 18 will be operational by the end of 2008. The remaining 12 will be operational over the following 3 years. Each hotel will contain between 80 and 120 rooms.

Potential franchisees interested in the easyHotel project can find more information in the franchise section of www.easyHotel.com.

Stelios the serial entrepreneur and easyGroup chairman said, "easyHotel is all about low costs and high efficiency and offers our guests well-equipped, clean and safe, en-suite facilities in urban centres, where customers can accept a smaller space for a smaller price. Our expansion into the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian sub-continent will be managed by Istithmar Hotels and demonstrates our company's strategy of building our brands globally by working with world class partners like Istithmar PJSC."

Talking about the regional expansion plans, Mr. Muneef Tarmoom, CEO of Istithmar, said: "We are happy to announce that our alliance with easyHotel is aiming to open a total of 38 budget hotels across the regions. The Middle East key gateway cities and emerging markets remain our core focus areas. Being a Dubai-based company we can bring expertise to the easyHotel project beyond Europe and meet the demand for quality, reasonably priced hotel accommodation in the regions of our agreement."

Istithmar launched Istithmar Hotels, a subsidiary formed to oversee investments in the hospitality and leisure sectors. The group is tapping hotel properties across the globe, with key investments being made in gateway cities such as New York and London as well as select emerging markets.

About Istithmar:

Istithmar PJSC is an alternative investment house based in the United Arab Emirates focusing on private equity, real estate and other alternative investments. Established in 2003, Istithmar was created with the key mission of earning exceptional returns for its investors while maintaining due regard for risk.

Istithmar, which means investment in Arabic, applies global expertise with local insights to coordinate the appraisal and implementation of various opportunities. Istithmar's 'I' investment philosophy is based around three core principles -- Ideas, Inquiry & Integrity -- sets the foundation for the firm which has a broad portfolio of highly successful companies in markets from North America to Europe to Asia to the Middle East.

Established with an initial investment capital pool of billion, Istithmar has, to date, invested in 35 companies deploying approximately USD 1.6 billion in equity capital. It currently focuses its activities in four industry verticals - Consumer, Financial Services, Industrial and Real Estate. Istithmar will enhance its own existing capital pool of billion through partnerships with world-class corporations and other leading providers of capital, the creation of investment funds and leverage.

About easyGroup

The easyGroup is the private investment vehicle of Stelios, the serial entrepreneur that creates new ventures and owns the easy Brand. The easyGroup is the owner of the easy brand and licenses it to all of the easy branded businesses, including easyJet plc - one of the most successful low cost airlines in the world that Stelios started in 1995 and in which he remains the largest single shareholder.

The easyGroup profits by either selling shares in the businesses or by licensing or franchising the brand to reputable partners. The easy brand currently operates in more than a dozen industries mainly in travel, leisure, telecoms and personal finance.

The easyHotel development schedule

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