Accor Eyes USD$1 Bln Chinese Motel Auction

February 24, 2011

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Europe's largest hotel group Accor is among bidders for Shanghai Motel Management, a Chinese motel chain majority owned by Morgan Stanley which could fetch up to USD$1 billion, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.

Chinese budget hoteliers Home Inns & Hotels Management, and Shanghai International Jin Jiang International Hotels Group are other bidders that might have expressed interest, they said.

The company, which operates the Motel 168 budget Chinese motel chain, offers a rare chance to grab market share in China's booming internal travel industry.

Accor had earlier held talks with private equity funds about forming a bidding consortium for the asset, one of the sources said.

The source said that potential private equity partners for the French hotel group included Blackstone Group and Carlyle Group.

The sources declined to be named, as they were not authorized to talk to the media. Blackstone did not respond to requests for comment. Carlyle declined comment. Accor and Morgan Stanley declined comment.

Morgan Stanley holds 59 percent of the firm through a real estate fund, the Wall Street Journal reported, adding that its other shareholders had agreed to sell their stakes.

Meanwhile the Financial Times reported the head of Accor's pledge to be "more ambitious" in expansion, branding and image.

The comments came from Denis Hennequin, who became chairman and chief executive of Accor, replacing Gilles Pelisson, the nephew of the group's co-founder following "strategic differences" with the board and the main shareholders.

Mr Pelisson is the second chief executive to have lost his job since private equity groups Colony Capital and Eurazeo built a stake of 29 percent in the company.

(Reuters)