Wyndham's Indian partner to add Howard Johnson to Kolkata's low room stock

Howard Johnson Kolkata, Rajarhat, Kolkata, India

Wyndham Hotel Group India's exclusive development partner Unique Mercantile India has finalized a deal to acquire a majority stake in a hotel owned by West Bengals' Platinum World Hospitality. Under the Howard Johnson brand, the 90-guestroom hotel will open in Rajarhat, Kolkata near Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. The new Howard Johnson, which is "at a very advanced state of development” is expected to begin operating in the next 30 days. 

Sources familiar with the development told DNA Money that the hotel's market value comes in at the Rs90-crore range. According to reports, Unique Mercantile bought the stake in excess of 80 percent for approximately Rs72 crore.

Mumbai-based hospitality research and advisory firm Noesis Capital Advisors facilitated the transaction between Unique Mercantile and Platinum World. According to Nandivardhan Jain, CEO at Noesis Capital Advisors, Kolkata's supply of quality guestrooms falls short of the destination's high demand. "Key reasons for limited supply are high land and finance cost and lead time required for approvals. The additional supply in close vicinity to Kolkata airport will benefit business and leisure travelers. This project is in one of the most established micro markets and will be positioned as a transit hotel," Jain said. He added that the new Howard Johnson's immediate completion will be with currently-open hotels, like Holiday Inn and Swissotel. 

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Howard Johnson Kolkata will be owned and operated under Unique Mercantile's hospitality subsidiary Unique Global Hotels as its third running property in India. The company has another operational Howard Johnson property in Hebbal, Bengaluru and an operational Ramada property in Udaipur. 

When the Bengalaru Howard Johnson hotel opened in October 2014, Unique Global Hotels announced its plans to open 35 Howard Johnsons within the next 15 years as part of its investment projects totaling Rs1,800 crore. The group will open these new hotels using a combination of management contracts, lease rental/minimum guarantee, equity participation in brownfield projects and joint ventures through special purpose vehicles on greenfield projects.  

India's hospitality market has seen its share of interesting mergers and acquisitions in the past few months. Hospitality investment firm Samhi Hotels acquired Whitbread's Premier Inn India hotel portfolio in early August. December 2016 saw the sale of France-based Louvre Hotels Group's 73-hotel portfolio to hospitality chain Sarovar Hotels. The transaction was valued between Rs330 and Rs350 crore.