Where there is smoke there is fire and Sebastien Bazin's comments at Skift Forum Europe last week hinted at an imminent deal.
AccorHotels has confirmed an all-cash deal to buy Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts for $567 million (€482 million) in a move to further expand its luxury portfolio.
Mövenpick has 84 hotels in 27 countries with a particularly strong presence in Europe and the Middle East.
Swiss-based Mövenpick Group is the current majority shareholder (66.7 percent) of Movenpick with Saudi conglomerate Kingdom Group holding the rest (33.3 percent).
Kingdom also holds a 47.5 percent stake in Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. The company’s CEO Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal was one of a number of prominent Saudi businessmen arrested in November 2017 in what was described as an anti-corruption drive. He was released in January.
“With the acquisition of Mövenpick, we are consolidating our leadership in the European market and are further accelerating our growth in emerging markets, in particular in Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific,” Bazin said.
“The Mövenpick brand is the perfect combination of modernity and authenticity and ideally complements our portfolio. Its European-Swiss heritage is a perfect fit with AccorHotels. By joining the Group, it will benefit from AccorHotels’ power, particularly in terms of distribution, loyalty-building and development.
“This transaction illustrates the strategy we intend to pursue with the opening up of AccorInvest’s capital: to seize tactical opportunities to strengthen our positions and consolidate our leaderships, as well as leverage our growth.”
When Accor sold a majority stake in its property unit earlier this year, it said it would use some of the funds to pay for future acquisitions. Even with this purchase, it will still have a considerable warchest.
“The acquisition fits in with expected use of proceeds, buying a medium sized luxury/leisure group that consolidates the leading position in current markets,” said Bernstein analyst Richard Clarke in a note to investors.
The deal continues Accor’s push into the luxury sphere. At one stage it was once better known as a mid-market operator but the purchase of the Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissôtel brands in 2016 changed all that.
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Photo credit: Sébastien Bazin, CEO of AccorHotels Group, speaking at Skift Forum Europe in Berlin, Germany on April 26, 2018. Tim Keweritsch / Skift