China's first-quarter economic growth slowed to a lower-than-expected 8.1%, the lowest since the first quarter of 2009, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.
China's growth was still above the 7.5% target set by the government, and its economy remains a bright spot in a world economy looking for drivers. China's resilient growth and strong public finances stand in contrast to the United States and Europe, where unemployment remains elevated and high public debt limits the scope for a stimulus.
But the 8.1% figure—compared with expectations of 8.3% growth according to economist surveys—is a marked slowdown from 8.9% during the fourth quarter of 2011.
Great Wolf Resorts’ stock price is trading at a four-year high as a result of the ongoing bidding war between Apollo Global Management and KSL Capital Partners, writes HotelNewsNow.com’s Shawn A Turner.
During the past several days, Apollo Global Management and KSL Capital Partners have been busy trying to trump each other with bids to acquire Great Wolf. Apollo started things off last month with a bid of $5 per share. KSL countered last week with a bid of $6.25; Apollo fired back at $6.75; and, over the weekend, KSL upped the ante again to $7 a share.
Just prior to this frenzied bidding, Great Wolf’s shares were trading at approximately $4.20 a share. The stock price has seen quite a bump during the past several weeks, though during the past few days it has seemed to stabilize at approximately $7.30 a share.
Since 1 March, Great Wolf’s stock price has increased by 79.7%, closing Thursday at $7.33 a share, just 12 cents below its 52-week high.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is conducting more I-9 audits than ever, reports HotelNewsNow.com’s Patrick Mayock. There are several proactive measures hoteliers should take to avoid penalties and fines, according to attorneys.
The issue has become more top-of-mind during the past year, as ICE has added more auditors and enhanced technology and can now issue more notices of enforcement, said Paul W. Virtue, partner with Baker & McKenzie LLP, during a webinar titled “I-9 Audits 101: Planning a Compliance Strategy.”
Virtue, who previously served as the executive associate commissioner and general counsel of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, said the government has shifted its focus in recent years. Whereas in the past, audits were directed at the undocumented workers themselves, today the emphasis is on their employers.
Audits are initiated by:
• tips from the public or employees;
• employers in sensitive industries;
• Social Security “no-match” letter history; and
• random sampling.
“It’s intended very specifically and publically to keep employers honest by going through the random notices of inspection,” Virtue said.
The strong rebound of demand for transient lodging accommodations that commenced approximately 15 months ago endures, and apart from any sudden economic or geopolitical shocks, hotel fundamentals are expected to continue recovering well, according to Dan Lesser, president and CEO of LW Hospitality Advisors LLC.
As part of LW Hospitality Advisors’ YTD Q1 2012 Select Major U.S. Hotel Sales Survey, Lesser made some notable observations:
• Seven single-asset sales totaling $100 million or greater in proceeds were consummated nationally.
• Seventeen transactions, or approximately 70% of the national total, included assets located in California, Florida, and the New York and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas.
• Of the 25 sales transacted nationally, eight, or roughly one-third, were in the New York metropolitan area, including: six in Manhattan; one in Brooklyn; and one in Long Branch, New Jersey.
• Private equity and non-traded real-estate investment trusts have been the dominant acquirers while public entities consummated a handful of major single-asset sales.
Atlanta-based America’s Best Franchising sold 11 new franchises and opened seven new properties during the first quarter of 2012, according to a news release.
The company operates 250 hotels primarily in the U.S. with more than 16,000 rooms under its four upper economy brands–America’s Best Inn & Suites, Budgetel Inns & Suites, Country Hearth Inns & Suites, and Parkside Hotels & Resorts.
“The first quarter is traditionally a slower time of year for sales, yet we achieved a solid start to 2012 and have an impressive inventory of openings scheduled,” Doug Collins, chairman and CEO of America’s Best Franchising, said in the news release. “We are confidently on course to achieve our goal of selling and opening 40 new hotels during the year.”
Compiled by Jason Q. Freed.