Eight months after announcing its intent to acquire Minnetonka, Minn.-based Carlson Hotels, China’s HNA Tourism Group has closed the deal, buying all of Carlson Hotels, and also acquiring Carlson’s 51.3-percent stake in Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel Group.
Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed, and HNA Tourism Group is not commenting on the deal at this time.
Now that HNA Tourism Group has officially purchased Carlson and obtained a majority stake in Rezidor, it has until January 4th to decide exactly what it wants to do with Rezidor and it has two options: sell down its stake or buy the whole company out.
At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to what HNA will ultimately decide to do. Skift spoke with Rezidor Deputy President and CFO Knut Kleiven, to ask him what could potentially happen.
Kleiven said, “They have four weeks to decide if they want to send their Rezidor shares down below 30 percent, or they can make another type of offer to the other shareholders and, depending on what that offer is, the other shareholders may want to sell or not to sell.”
He added, “If they come with an offer that is not accepted by the other shareholders let’s say, Rezidor maintains its position as a listed company and it will have a large shareholder which is HNA. If they are successful and they buy out the minority shareholders — if they get to 100 percent — then that would be a consolidation of Carlson and Rezidor.”
When asked if he had any indication as to where HNA was leaning, Kleiven said, “I have no idea. It’s impossible for me to comment on that because Rezidor has not been part of this transaction. The transaction is between Carlson and HNA and we have not been part of it.”
HNA and Its Many Hospitality Connections
If HNA sounds familiar to you, that’s most likely because it is an investor in a number of other hospitality groups, and its parent company, HNA Group, is a Fortune 500 behemoth in the global travel industry. The company also operates one of China’s largest online travel agencies and has businesses in aviation, offline travel agencies, and tour operators.
In October, Hilton Worldwide also announced HNA had struck a deal to purchase shares of Hilton from its biggest shareholder, Blackstone, for $6.5 billion, acquiring a 25-percent stake company in one of the world’s largest hotel companies.
HNA also has investments in Spokane, Wash.-based Red Lion Hotels, as well as in Madrid-based NH Hotels, which could play a factor in the company’s decision regarding its stake in Rezidor.
Earlier this year, the CEO of NH Hotel Group and four of its board members were ousted from the company over concerns that HNA’s then-pending acquisition of Carlson Hotels was a major “conflict of interest,” primarily because of its majority stake in Rezidor.
Rezidor has kept quiet about HNA but, prior to the upheaval at NH Hotels this summer, Rezidor CEO Wolfgang Neumann said HNA has plans to transform Rezidor into “a hotel chain on a global level,” and he added, “The priority is to consolidate Carlson Rezidor and then we will study the possibility of integrating with NH.”
What Happens to Carlson
Carlson’s brands include the Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson, and its loyalty program, Club Carlson.
Carlson Hotels CEO David Berg will remain as CEO, and Carlson Hotels will remain headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Carlson Wagonlit Travel is not impacted by this sale.
When Skift spoke to Berg shortly after the deal was announced in April, he said HNA will be a good fit for Carlson Hotels.
“HNA is most consistent with what our shareholders always hoped for their hotels business,” Berg said. “In HNA, the hotels join a broad and expanding portfolio of travel businesses, with new sister businesses in airlines, travel, and lodging. We want to give our businesses the strongest and most exciting global platform they can have, and HNA shares this commitment with a portfolio of companies that spans the globe. It was most consistent for the family’s vision of a global, growing, vibrant hotel business. The business is joining a global Fortune 500 company with operations across aviation, tourism, hospitality and more – a company with the aspiration to be one of the 50 largest companies in the world by 2030. They have a global outlook, and provide the size and platform upon which our business can really thrive.”