MILLENNIUM and Copthorne is planning to spend £300m on hotel acquisitions in the US and Asia markets.
The group announced its expansion plans as it revealed its interim results for the first half of 1999 which contained an upbeat trading message, leading to an increase in the chain's share prices.
The group, which acquired Asian and Australasian hotels group CDL Hotels International for £556m in April, is looking to acquire properties in Tokyo, Bangkok, Seoul, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, St Louis, Dallas and Miami where it has no representation.
Chief executive John Wilson said the group's balance sheets could stand spending the £300m without going anywhere for financial help.
He said: "We've got £300m which gives us the opportunity to start looking round at suitable properties. We are encouraged by the positive signs now coming out of Asia and feel the crisis has bottomed out and it's a good time to have representation there."
Millennium and Copthorne reported an increase in pre-tax profits from £24.3m to £29.2m on the same period last year of which £2.7m was contributed by 22 days trading from CDL. Hotel operating profits rose from £35.3m to £38.7m.
A drop in room yield in the UK was reported but strong forward booking numbers are anticipated to counter the problem.
Millennium and Copthorne increased its portfolio from 24 to 67 hotels after acquiring CDL, giving the group the geographical spread it wants to protect itself from economic fluctuations.
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