CBRE has appointed two senior-level hires to its Asia Pacific hotels team, placing a bet on a travel rebound once pandemic restrictions are lifted.
IHG Hotels veteran Steve Carroll has joined the agency as head of hotels and hospitality for the region, while former Pan Pacific Hotels executive David Ling has come aboard as a managing director.
Amid a dip in hotel acquisitions and muted tourism activity across the region, CBRE’s Asia Pacific hotels team is gearing up to take on pent-up demand once business and leisure travellers make a comeback, according to the company’s news release.
“While the pandemic has created unprecedented cash-flow disruption for the industry, it is also creating opportunities for selective investors that recognise the potential of quality assets that stand to benefit from the rebound in business and leisure travel,” Carroll said. “The pieces are all in place for this to happen, such as pent-up travel demand, combined with strong access to capital in the region.”
Carroll was previously a senior vice president of global corporate finance and strategy, as well as global head of mergers and acquisitions, at Intercontinental Hotel Group. In this role, he drove the company’s investment strategies, including brand acquisitions and major transactions such as the $1 billion sale of the Intercontinental Hong Kong to Gaw Capital Partners and its co-investors in July 2015.
Before joining the parent company of the Intercontinental, Crown Plaza and Holiday Inn chains, Carroll had served with fund manager LaSalle Investment Management in Singapore, first as national director of asset management from 2010 to 2013 and then as a regional from 2013 until joining IHG the next year.
Ling was formerly chief investment officer of Singapore-based Pan Pacific Hotels Group, which, including development projects, owns and manages over 50 hotels globally as a division of developer UOL Group.
Before joining Pan Pacific Hotels Group in October 2019, Ling had served as the head of strategic development with the manager of Singapore-listed CDL Hospitality Trust.
“We are excited to welcome Steve and David as we expand our global service offering and leverage existing teams to provide a full suite of hotel capabilities for our clients across Asia Pacific,” said Greg Hyland, CBRE’s head of APAC capital markets.
Hyland, who will directly supervise both Carroll and Ling, added: “The new realities created by the pandemic mean that clients will be best served with a comprehensive hotels offering that includes investment, divestment, M&A, capital raising, debt, asset management and strategic advisory expertise.”
Growing Pipeline Amid Flat Sales
CBRE’s team expansion follows a decline in Asia Pacific hotel acquisitions. With total APAC hotel transaction volumes at $1.5 billion, only 31 transactions were recorded in the second quarter, representing a 32 percent year-on-year decline, according to Savills.
Despite the region-wide downturn in hotel sales, the pipeline of hotel transactions under contract in Asia Pacific grew to nearly $4 billion in the three-month period to June, which was up from the recent average of about $2 billion in transactions each quarter, according to a Real Capital Analytics report.
With major sales due for completion across the region, property consultancy JLL predicts full-year transaction volumes in Asia Pacific to reach $7 billion, representing a roughly 20 percent year-on-year increase.
“The speed and extent of recovery for the sector will look different across markets,” said David Ling, CBRE’s new managing director of hotels and hospitality. “In order to capitalise on the market recovery, hotel owners, operators and investors will have to optimise their assets and align services with anticipated demand.”
Singapore, where Carroll and Ling are based, recorded only two hotel transactions in the second quarter, Savills reported. The 42-key Balestier Hotel in Novena and 25-key Amber Hotel in Katong were traded for $268,000 and $815,000 per key respectively, with a combined volume of $32 million.
APAC’s leading hotel markets also saw a decline in sales. In the second quarter, only Australia saw 11 percent year-on-year sales growth, while China recorded a 65 percent decline from the same period last year with a total sales volume of $280 million across three transactions.
Within the quarter, Japan reported a 39 percent year-on-year sales drop, while hotel sales in South Korea faced a smaller decline of 3 percent compared with the same period the previous year.