Asian money continued flow into global hospitality assets this week as a Thai real estate developer announced an agreement to buy a European hotel chain and associated properties for 330 million euros ($349 million).
U City Public Company Limited, which owns a range of commercial, residential and hospitality properties across Thailand, agreed to acquire a portfolio of 24 hotels across western, central and eastern Europe, along with a hotel management company from Austrian- and Polish-listed property developer Warimpex Finanz- und Beteiligungs AG. The transaction gives the Bangkok-based developer ownership of eight freehold properties, plus another 16 leased assets across Germany and nine other European countries, totalling 4,100 keys.
Acquiring a Pan-European Chain
Also included in the deal are four of Warimpex’s hotel brands and the rights to manage an additional 12 third party hotels in Austria, Belarus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Russia and Slovakia.
“This is U City’s strategic acquisition to diversify our hotel investment portfolio beyond Asia across to Europe in both established and fast-growing markets,” U City CEO Piyaporn Phanachet said in a statement. The deal gives Piyaporn’s company ownership of the Vienna House, Vienna House Easy, angelo by Vienna House and andel’s by Vienna House hotel brands.
U City made its first step into Europe in September 2016 by acquiring a prime office block at 33 Gracechurch Street in the City of London for £75m.
Hotels Still Hot with Asian Investors
The acquisition by U City fits into a wave of Asian capital flowing into hospitality assets globally in recent years. Leading this trend has been a movement into hotels and resorts by Chinese investors, with mainland buyers snatching up $10 billion in overseas hospitality assets in 2016, according to a recent report on the industry by property consultancy JLL. Buyers from other Asian countries spent another $4.6 billion on cross-border acquisitions of hotels and resorts last year, according to the JLL study.
The addition of Vienna House to U City’s portfolio could be a strategic one, as Germany’s hospitality sector has seen growing demand from Asian guests over the past five years, according to the German statistical office, Statistisches Bundesamt. “The transaction is in line with U City’s strategy to build a portfolio of income generating assets and achieve broader geographic diversification,” U City Director Daniel Ross added. “The majority of the assets and management contracts are located within Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic and we have confidence in the capability of Vienna House’s management team to build the business further.”
U City, which was founded in 1988 and listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in 1993 as Natural Park Public Company Limited, owns four hospitality properties in Thailand including the Aman Resort Bangkok and the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort and Spa.