Bangkok-based Minor International recently completed the acquisition of NH Hotel Group, and in comments prior to the deal's close, Minor Hotels CEO Dillip Rajakarier said it’s all about increasing the company’s global footprint to enhance shareholder value.
HONG KONG—Minor International’s Dillip Rajakarier believes consolidation is good for the hotel industry—but not simply because companies want to increase scale.
Bangkok-based Minor on 26 October announced it had completed its acquisition of Madrid-based NH Hotel Group. The deal gives Minor a 94.1% stake in the Spanish company, while building its portfolio to 549 hotels around the world.
There’s one reason Rajakarier, the CEO of Minor Hotels and COO of Minor International, is seeking growth.
“We don’t want to be the biggest—people say size matters, I’m not sure that it does,” Rajakarier said during the “Investment Outlook” session at the recent Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific. “It’s all about underlying earnings and actually trying to deliver shareholder value.”
While Rajakarier’s comments were made on 18 October—prior to the deal being completed—he was anticipating the finalization as he talked about what it would mean once closed. Minor acquired its stake in NH Hotels to complement its strong holdings in Asia, Australia and Africa and its 2016 acquisition of the 14-hotel portfolio of Portugal-based Tivoli Hotels, he said.
“We’ve got about 160 hotels, and in our five-year plan last year we said that we would get to 280 hotels over the next five years,” Rajakarier said at the conference. “NH today is very strong as a brand in Europe, LatAm, and also in the U.S., and we felt that with the customer, with our guests sort of moving from Asia back to Europe and also there’s a lot of transactions have actually happened in Europe, and we need to actually have some presence in Europe.”
As a result of the deal, Minor is a hotel owner, operator and investor with a portfolio of 549 hotels under the Anantara, Avani, Oaks, Tivoli, NH Collection, NH, nhow, Elewana, Marriott, Four Seasons, St. Regis, Radisson Blu and Minor International brands in 53 countries.
The deal didn’t come without some intrigue.
In late July, Hyatt Hotels CEO Mark Hoplamazian sent a letter to the Spanish stock exchange informing it that Hyatt might launch a bid to acquire 100% of NH. Once Minor made its intention clear, Hyatt retracted from the potential deal. In addition, NH in January turned down a €2 billion acquisition offer from rival Barceló Group.
“There was a lot of interest from (private equity) firms, and some of the other loan sharks,” Rajakarier said. “Sometimes it’s how fast you get in and get out and how fast you structure some of these deals and how you then release shareholder value after that.
“From that context, we’ve embarked on a $2.9 billion deal, which is the NH Hotels,” he added. “It’s very strategic for us from the perspective that today Minor International is very strong in Asia … Africa and Australia.”
Minor’s plan is to improve NH’s portfolio and increase its market value similar to what it did with Tivoli, Rajakarier said.
“We’ve reduced our multiples from 10 times to seven times within two years (since acquiring Tivoli),” he said. “That’s the value you create. It’s all about value creation, and it’s been accretive to our share price.
“And the same thing with NH, where we’re buying that at almost 10 times multiples, a portfolio which will complement our portfolio, it’s not going to compete like some of the larger brands, which are having a problem with indigestion today,” he added. “Hopefully we won’t (have that indigestion) because our brands will complement each other, and our geographies will also complement each other.”
It all goes back to enhancing shareholder value, he said.
“Since 2000, we’ve given 35% shareholder value year-on-year to all our shareholders,” Rajakarier said. “It’s a fantastic road we’ve had over the years. So we are fully focused on that, and also we talk more about our guests rather than talking more about the number of hotels we have or how big we will be, and also we talk about guest experience.”