Shanghai-based hotel operator the Jin Jiang Group is said to have joined the bidding for B&B Hotels, making it the second mainland Chinese firm to pursue the French econo-chic hospitality brand.
The Carlyle Group, which currently owns 80 percent of B&B, is said to have already received a bid for B&B from privately-owned mainland hotel operator Greentree Inns. The private equity firm is said to be expecting to bring in €950 million to €1 billion from the sale of its stake.
Chinese companies have shown a distinct taste for hotel acquisitions in the last few years, with Jin Jiang already having purchased Le Louvre Hotel Group from Starwood Capital in 2014 in a deal valued at more than $1.49 billion.
B&B Denies Jin Jiang Interest
B&B, which is being advised in the sale process by US investment bank Morgan Stanley told France’s Les Echos that Jin Jiang is not currently a bidder for the company. However, the newspaper cited industry sources that indicated Jin Jiang could be pursuing an informal bid outside of the sales process.
Jin Jiang has shown itself to be on the acquisition trail lately, after it had been linked last month to a bid for Starwood’s $12 billion hotel portfolio. Ultimately, US-based Marriott International agreed last week to buy Starwood for $12.2 billion, denying the Shanghai-based group an opportunity to instantly become a global player.
Chinese Chains Could Gain European Platform
While no winner has been announced yet in the B&B sweepstakes, acquiring the 320-location chain could give either Green Tree or Jin Jiang the opportunity to instantly boost its European presence, as more Chinese travellers venture abroad.
Industry statistics indicate that more than 100 million Chinese travelled internationally last year, with HSBC predicting that number will double over the next decade.
However, as was the case with Starwood, Chinese groups are expected to face stiff competition in the B&B bidding. Although some bidders have already dropped out, the private equity arm of investment bank Goldman Sachs is said to be making an offer, along with European private equity firm PAI.