Cross-Border Buyer for Carlson Hotels

Carlson Hospitality just revealed that it has signed on the dotted line to sell Carlson Hotels to this Beijing-based global conglomerate.
BAI Haibo, Chairman & CEO of HNA Hospitality & David P. Berg, CEO of Carlson Hospitality

BAI Haibo, Chairman & CEO of HNA Hospitality & David P. Berg, CEO of Carlson Hospitality

Beijing and Minneapolis–Big-ticket acquisition activity in the U.S. hotel sector continues with the planned sale of Carlson Hotels Inc.  Family-owned Carlson Hospitality Group Inc. just revealed that it has signed on the dotted line to sell Carlson Hotels to HNA Tourism Group Co. Ltd., a Beijing-based global tourism conglomerate.

No acquisition cost accompanied news of the agreement, but it’s bound to be steep. After all, Minnetonka, Minn.-based Carlson Hotels reported system-wide revenues totaling $7.3 billion for 2015. And then there’s its ownership of a stellar portfolio of brands that includes the Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inns & Suites By Carlson.

“Carlson Hotels own a powerful set of global brands and this historic agreement provides tremendous opportunities for growth,” David Berg, Carlson Hospitality Group CEO, said in a prepared statement. The hotel company’s portfolio encompasses approximately 1,400 operating and under-development hotels accounting for more than 220,000 guestrooms across 115 countries and territories.

Carlson’s board of directors has given the proposed acquisition a unanimous thumbs-up, signing off on a deal that involves Carlson Hotels in its entirety, which means the 51.3 percent majority interest in Rezidor Hotel Group AB, the company’s Brussels-based master licensee covering the EMEA region, is part of the package.

The Carlson news comes on the heels of Marriott International’s deal to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc. for $13.6 billion after fighting off a bid from China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd., which has seemingly locked up a deal to purchase Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. from Blackstone Group for $6.5 billion. There’s more to come, industry experts predict. As noted in a report by commercial real estate services firm JLL, “Even with the mergers and acquisitions announced in 2015, the lodging industry remains considerably more fragmented than other large consumer industries in terms of the market share controlled by the top brands. We expect to see more consolidation among operators and real estate owners alike, whether portfolio optimizations or public-private trades.”

Foreign investors are chomping at the bit, China chief among them. According to the Urban Land Institute and PwC’s 2016 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report, China was the leading country source for investment in the U.S. hotel sector in 2015.

HNA’s acquisition of Carlson Hotels is on track to reach completion in the second half of 2016, after which the newly merged hospitality company will continue to call suburban Minneapolis home.