Chinese buyer swoops for Carlson Hotels

Chinese buyer swoops for Carlson Hotels

US-based Carlson Hotels is being taken over by Chinese travel giant HNA Tourism Group in a deal reported to be worth $2 billion. 

The agreement includes well know brands such as Radisson and Radisson Blu plus a majority share in Rezidor Hotel Group, Carlson Hotel’s Brussels-based master licensee, with hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The combination of HNA Tourism Group and Carlson Hotels will have increased ability to accelerate growth through investments in areas such as digital, owned assets in major gateway cities, building of Radisson RED and other new brands, the two companies said.

HNA Tourism Group is a division of HNA Group, a Fortune Global 500 company with operations across aviation, tourism, hospitality, finance, and online services among other sectors.

Carlson Hotels is part of the family-owned Carlson Hospitality Group and operates more than 1,400 hotels in 110 countries, employing 90,000 people worldwide. Carlson will retain its larger Carlson Wagonlit Travel business.

David Berg, chief executive of Carlson Hospitality Group, will remain as head of the new organisation. He said: “Carlson Hotels own a powerful set of global brands and this historic agreement provides tremendous opportunities for growth.

“We look forward to working within HNA Tourism Group, a greatly respected global enterprise, in what will be an exciting new chapter in the history of Carlson Hotels. As part of HNA Tourism Group, Carlson Hotels will have an opportunity to advance our commitment to providing guests with hospitality worldwide.”

Carlson chairman Diana Nelson said: “Since my grandfather, Curt Carlson, founded our company in 1938, our family has run businesses that create opportunity for people and positive change in the world.

“Hospitality is in our hearts, which made this a difficult decision. We strongly believe that selling our hotel business to HNA Tourism Group, a company that fully recognises its value and heritage, is the best way for us to position it for success and to be true to my grandfather’s legacy in the long term.”

HNA Tourism board member and HNA Hospitality Group chairman and chief executive, Bai Haibo, said: “We have great respect for the Carlson family and a deep appreciation for its history and special culture.

“Carlson Hotels’ global success and strong, sustainable growth potential is a testament to their world-class brands, continuous innovation, excellent management, and unique employee-focused culture, all of which we will build upon as part of this combination to establish our presence in the US market and expand our footprint in hospitality internationally.

“We look forward to working together with their management team, employees, franchisee partners, suppliers and customers to accelerate growth by investing substantially in the business.”

The deal comes amid a period of intense consolidation in the global hotel sector including Marriott International’s recent purchase of Starwood Hotels & Resorts for more than $12.2 billion, creating the world’s largest hotel company.

Another Chinese investor, Anbang Insurance Group, had made a bid for Starwood before walking away.

Had Anbang bought Starwood, it would have been the biggest acquisition of a US company by a Chinese buyer, according to Bloomberg.


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