BET founder Robert Johnson’s hotel business gets much bigger

WASHINGTON — BET founder Robert Johnson’s hotel investment company is merging with another in a deal that will create one of the nation’s largest hotel real estate investment companies.

Bethesda-based RLJ Lodging Trust and Texas-based FelCor Lodging Trust Inc. will merge in a transaction that will make FelCor a wholly-owned subsidiary of RLJ.

It will create a $7 billion company with stakes in 160 hotels in 26 states and the District, the third largest pure-play real estate investment trust focused on hotels.

It will also expand RLJ’s hotel portfolio to the West Coast.

Johnson will remain chief executive of the merged companies, and it will keep its headquarters in Bethesda.

The merger still requires shareholder approval and is expected to close by the end of 2017.

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