AccorHotels inches closer to real estate unit share sale

Mercure Paris La Sorbonne Saint Germain des Prés Hotel, France. Photo Credit: Mercure Hotels.(Image: Mercure Hotels)

AccorHotels Group reached the final stages of a €6.6-billion deal to sell half of its real estate subsidiary AccorInvest.

Five institutional investors are in the running to acquire the hotel group’s real estate investment arm. These are French asset manager Amundi, Crédit Agricole’s life insurance arm Predica, U.S. real estate investor Colony NorthStar, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC and Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund PIF. 

AccorInvest will announce the buyer before its full-year results are released in late February, seven months later than Sébastien Bazin, CEO of AccorHotels, originally planned. The stake sale will be Bazin’s next step in his overhaul of the hotel company to drive expansion, boost profits and increase funding in property renovations and acquisitions. He also planned the sale to prepare for impending challenges in the hotel industry as competition from digital platforms, like Airbnb, and online travel agents, like Expedia, increases.

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Accor originally planned to finalize the sale by the end of the first half of 2017, but the complexity of the transaction continues to delay the completion date. “The whole process has been taking longer than initially expected because it’s a very complex transaction,” Vicki Stern, a MD in leisure research at Barclays, told the Financial Times. “You have a handful of different investors with different opinions trying to agree on the terms.” 

The hotel group will continue to be the largest shareholder in AccorInvest, but will hold a stake below 50 percent. The investors are predicted to buy a smaller share than Accor anticipated at 50-60 percent. The group originally planned to sell up to 80 percent. 

Accor split up HotelInvest into the standalone AccorInvest in May 2017 for investors to acquire the subsidiary’s shares. This was also done to allow Accor to raise funds to continue acquiring, renovating and developing hotel properties.