Century City International eyes opportunities for North America expansion

Regal's new location in Skycity will be near its existing airport hotel at Terminal 1.

To continue its diversification plan, Century City International Holdings is considering expansion across the U.S. and Europe.  reported.

According to the South China Morning Post, the company is eyeing diversification opportunities because it is difficult to replenish land in Hong Kong while competitors on the mainland are willing to buyout high-priced government sites, VC Poman Lo Po-man told South China Morning Post. “It is not we do not look at Hong Kong, but we cannot just set our eyes on Hong Kong,” Lo said.

The group is currently discussing plans with a prospective partner to build a 420,000-square-foot mixed-use development in New York with a hotel, residences and retail space. No further details were available as of press time.

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Lo denied notions that Century City International is less aggressive than other major developers with international expansion. “Once the right opportunities arise, one project alone may be equivalent to the combined capital outlay of several,” she told the South China Morning Post. “We just do not want to enter a bidding war with rivals as it will increase risks.”

Century City International sold a substantial number of Regal chain hotels in North America. “We had once managed 100 hotels in the U.S., but sold them to pursue [targets with] better investment returns such as [those in] Hong Kong,” Lo said. “We absolutely have the expertise to manage hotels ourselves, we are just waiting for an opportunity to take off.” 

 Regal was awarded a contract for the A1a plot in Hong Kong's Skycity project to develop its new airport hotel.

Century City International holds a 62.3-percent stake in Paliburg Holdings, and therefore, also holds 67.9 percent in Regal Hotels International Holdings. Regal holds 74.6 percent in Regal Real Estate Investment Trust, which has eight Regal and three Iclub Hotels in Hong Kong in its portfolio. The group’s focus includes property, hotels and aircraft leasing.

The developer owns 12 hotels–nine are currently operating while three are under construction–and more than 6,500 guestrooms under the Regal brand in the high-end market and Iclub for business travelers.

Meanwhile, Century City International is currently developing a HK$5 billion airport hotel, which is set to be Hong Kong’s largest airport hotel in Chek Lap Kok. In February, the developer won the contract to develop the new airport hotel for HK$2.19 billion. The total investment cost, which includes construction and other expenses, would be HK$5 billion. It will open its doors to travelers in 2020 under a new brand, which will be announced soon. “The positioning of the new brand will be in the mid-range between targeted customers by Regal and Iclub. This is a more stylish and casual brand,” Lo said.

The 12-story airport hotel at site A1a of Skycity at the Hong Kong International Airport is part of the first phase of the approximately 62-acre Skycity development, which also has office, retail, dining and entertainment facilities. 

Lo is the third generation of the Lo family, which heads Great Eagle Holdings through a trust. It  is currently locked in a court battle over HSBC’s role as trustee of the family-owned business.