Asset light, something with history and heritage, fewer than 200 hotels ... IHG CEO Keith Barr has quite a specific wish list. It doesn't sound like we'll have to wait too long until we find out the identity of the luxury hotel brand in question.
InterContinental Hotels Group is getting closer to announcing a deal for a luxury hotel brand, but buying Belmond isn’t part of its plan.
While recent reports suggested that InterContinental Hotels Group had taken a closer look at the company formerly known as Orient-Express Hotels, CEO Keith Barr indicated this wasn’t part of the plan.
When asked if Belmond was a company InterContinental Hotels Group was looking to buy, Barr said it wasn’t, before he reiterated a point made on a recent investor call that any potential acquisition needed to be asset light, something that Belmond isn’t.
“Why was I so specific? Because I really wanted everyone to know, including our shareholders, what our strategy is,” Barr told Skift Tuesday.
“We have created extraordinary value for our shareholders for a decade plus, more so than any other hotel company in the industry. We’ve done it by really understanding our capital allocation structure. So, if I go out today and buy a luxury brand at a big ticket price at a very big multiple it’s going to be destructive to shareholder value in the short to mid-term. Completely contrary to what we’ve spent a decade doing.”
Reading between the lines, it looks like InterContinental Hotels Group is very close to announcing something although Barr didn’t give much away. He did, though, describe other requirements.
Barr is interested in brands with “history and heritage” that maybe “hasn’t really done anything in a while,” and that need “a bit of love [and] attention.”
“We’re not going out and buying a 200-hotel, hotel company… we’re not going to go spend $2 to $3 billion dollars buying something,” he said.
So who might the chain be targeting? Suggestions — some of which fit the guidelines better than others — include: Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Shangri-La and Kempinski.
From Barr’s comments, it sounds as though we’ll find out the identity soon enough.
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Photo credit: Pictured is InterContinental Hotels Group CEO IHG Keith Barr at Skift Global Forum in New York City in September 2017. Barr wants to add another luxury brand or two to the chain's portfolio. Skift