Room to grow in hotel sector
Chinese investors are grabbing up luxury hotels internationally
Chinese companies are expanding into the global hotel market with a raft of plans to buy or build luxury properties after a series of high-profile acquisitions.
Earlier this year, Anbang Insurance Group paid $1.95 billion for the iconic Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York’s swanky Manhattan, while the Sunshine Insurance Group snapped up the Baccart Hotel in the same upmarket district for $230 million.
Dalian Wanda Group Corp Ltd, the massive Chinese conglomerate, is another key player and has announced plans to open up to 10 major hotels in Europe and the United States in the next five years.
“Investment into overseas hotel properties by Chinese companies will be much more this year,” Xia Yangyang, director of international capital at global property agents Jones Lang LaSalle in China, said. “And that investment will continue to grow in the future.”
Statistics from a report released by Jones Lang LaSalle showed that Chinese companies last year pumped $16.5 billion into overseas real estate markets, with the hotel sector accounting for 6 percent.
Europe, Australia and the US were the main destinations for investment, the report said. “One of the biggest trends of 2015 is the surge in Chinese investment into hotels globally. This is despite some underlying concerns across the globe, such as the Greek debt crisis and the recent fluctuations in the Chinese stock market,” Mark Wynne Smith, who leads the global hotels and hospitality team at Jones Lang LaSalle, told traveldailymedia.com .
The latest Chinese company to enter the overseas hotel industry is Ctrip.com International Ltd. The country’s largest online travel agency has launched Xieling, an Internet fund management platform, with Singapore-based F&H Fund Management and Huiyu Asset Management in China.
Ctrip and its partners hope to raise 2.5 billion yuan ($403 million) in the first phase with the fund being used for overseas hotel projects.
“About 90 percent will be raised among Chinese institutional investors with the company picking up the rest,” a source close to Ctrip said.
“The investment focus will be on hotel projects in Europe, where many high quality properties are professionally managed but undervalued,” he added.
A crucial reason behind Ctrip’s project is the booming overseas tourism market.
Last year, the number of Chinese outbound tourists hit 114 million, according to the China Tourism Academy. In the first half of this year, the number reached 61.9 million, an increase of 16 percent compared to the same period in 2014.
“The outbound tourism market is part of the decision to set up the Xieling fund, but it is not the only reason,” Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Academy, said. “As an online travel agency, Ctrip intends to extend its brand through investing in overseas hotels.”
This trend to go global was started by Chinese insurance companies looking for blue chip investments. At the start of the year, Anbang Insurance purchased a trophy asset in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York from Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.
The deal was officially closed in February with the Hilton group staying in charge of the day-to-day operations.
“Hilton will operate the hotel, the linchpin of its portfolio, for the next 100 years,” said Christopher Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide.
The Waldorf Astoria, the famed New York hotel, sold to Anbang Insurance in 2014, is emblematic of Chinese investors’ interest in purchasing choice hotel properties.