Fosun Group has drawn up a shortlist of 50 hotels for acquisition globally as the Chinese investment house plans to invest more than $500 million on hospitality sector assets.
The Shanghai-based conglomerate’s plans for the tourism industry were revealed at a news conference last week, according to an account in the Wall Street Journal, and come in the midst of a growing string of hotel acquisitions by Chinese corporates and institutional investors.
Many Chinese companies have indicated that with the rapid growth of travellers from their home country helping to increase global tourism figures, that hotel, travel and leisure investments will be safe bets as China’s newly rich increasingly look for new ways to spend their leisure renminbi.
Fosun Follows Up on Club Med
Fosun’s hotel plans follow soon after the company controlled by billionaire Guo Guangchang won a nearly two year bidding battle last month to acquire Club Med in a deal that valued the French tourism company at 939 million euros ($1.01 billion).
Then early this month Guo’s firm, which models itself after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, paid £91.8m ($137 million) for a five percent stake in British travel firm Thomas Cook.
Now hotel investment appears to be next on Fosun’s list, as the company readies a 500 million euro ($534 million) hospitality investment fund, to be managed by the UK firm.
“We have identified 50 hotels which the fund could invest in,” the Journal quoted Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser as saying. The fund, which has an estimated size of 500 million euros ($533.7 million), is backed by money from Portuguese insurers owned by Fosun, he said.
Fosun has been in the hotel and tourism sector since 2002, but only has begun to go international with its hospitality ambitions much more recently
Grosvenor House First on the List?
One of the hotel assets that could be near the top of Fosun’s short-list is London’s Grosvenor House, which is currently on the market for ₤500 million ($762 million). Guo’s firm made an unsuccessful attempt to buy the UK landmark from its current owner last year, and is taking another run at Grosvenor House since it was taken over by the Bank of China, after the current owner defaulted on a loan from the bank.
Fosun’s pursuit of hotels would place it among an increasingly crowded field of Chinese companies chasing hospitality industry assets, including some of the country’s biggest insurers.
China’s Anbang Insurance made headlines worldwide in October when it paid a record $1.95 billion for New York’s Waldorf Astoria in October last year. Since then, Anbang’s rival, Sunshine Insurance paid $230 million for the as-yet-unopened Baccarat Hotel in Manhattan.
Sunshine has also been active in Australia, where the Beijing-based state owned firm bought a Sydney hotel for $401 million in November last year.
In its investment outlook for 2015, real estate consultancy JLL forecast a 15 percent increase in purchases of hotels by Chinese companies, with total acquisitions likely to surpass $65 billion this year.