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AccorHotels plans to ‘more than double’ Middle East footprint following FRHI acquisition

AccorHotels plans to ‘more than double’ Middle East footprint following FRHI acquisition

$2.9bn deal was announced in December.

French hotel operator Accor is planning to add more than 75 properties to its Middle Eastern footprint by 2020 following the completion of the $2.9bn acquisition of the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands.

Accor, owner of the ibis, Novotel and Sofitel brands, currently has 75 hotels in the region and a total of 19,000 rooms. Following the deal, scheduled to be completed in June, the company plans to “more than double” this footprint, according to AccorHotels Middle East managing director and chief operating officer Olivier Granet.

He said even without the acquisition the company would double its regional hotel count within the next five years to 150 properties. These will be split between roughly 40 per cent mid-range, 40 per cent economy and 20 per cent luxury properties.

In the last two years, the company has averaged one hotel opening every month and one new agreement every two weeks in the region.

Granet said Accor would “probably achieve more” than its target of 20 new hotels in the UAE from its current count of 30 and revealed he hoped to bring more of its brands to the region.

He highlighted in particular the MGallery luxury boutique brand and French chain Mama Shelter, the brand Accor acquired a 35 per cent stake in two years ago, as potential new names for the Middle East. It is also considering the introduction of designer hotel brand SO Sofitel.

Accor’s regional activities could particularly benefit from the introduction of two influential new Middle Eastern shareholders upon completion of the FRHI deal.

As part of the acquisition which includes around 17 properties in the Middle East and Africa, the hotelier will pay FRHI shareholders Qatar Investment Authority and Kingdom Holding’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding $840m in cash and 46.7 million in new shares.

The two will become some of the French company’s largest shareholders, owning 10.5 per cent and 5.8 per cent of the company respectively, and be granted three seats on its board.

Elsewhere in the region, Accor has also been one of the first movers in the Iranian market, opening two properties, an ibis and Novotel, at Imam Khomeini International Airport in September last year.

The company has said it wants to open 100 new hotels in the Iranian market in the next decade, according to reports.

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