5 things to know: 15 February 2017
5 things to know: 15 February 2017
15 FEBRUARY 2017 10:41 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Advocacy group warns against closed borders
  • Fosun looking at international tourism M&A
  • African hotels overcome commodity woes to grow
  • Hilton, Wyndham kick off hotel earnings season
  • SoftBank to buy Fortress for $3.3 billion

Advocacy group warns against closed borders: The World Travel & Tourism Council has warned of “economic stagnation in the travel and tourism sector” if the administration of President Donald Trump adopts policies that impede international travel, according to a news release.

Speaking at the Routes Americas aviation conference on Tuesday, WTTC President and CEO David Scowsill cautioned the larger travel industry could be hurt if Trump decides to adopt policies similar to those seen after the 9/11 terror attacks.

"The Trump Administration is in danger of steering the country in the same direction, which could have a huge impact on the country's travel and tourism sector, which generates over 8% of the country's GDP and supports nearly 10% of total employment in the U.S.," he said.

Fosun looking at international tourism M&A: Fosun, China’s largest private conglomerate, is looking to raise money for international investment in tourism, Reuters reports. The company’s Fosun Tourism & Culture Group subsidiary is “in discussions with domestic and international investors for its first round of capital raising to boost overseas investments ahead of a public listing,” according to its president Qian Jiannong.

"We will increase (overseas) investment in the next few years, and the area or regions that are most important for us are really not only where Chinese people have an interest in, but also the global regions where the tourism business is attractive," Qian said.

He told Reuters he doesn’t expect new regulations intended to keep Chinese capital within the country’s borders to limit Fosun’s international growth plans.

"Fosun, as a global enterprise, won't be affected by such restrictions because we have enough offshore capital to conduct M&A deals overseas," he said.

African hotel industry overcomes commodity woes to grow: The energy sector has been a headwind for hotels in many portions of Africa of late, but growing population and increasingly diverse demand drivers in the continent’s various countries have been enough to help the industry grow, writes senior reporter Terence Baker.

Reporting from the Gulf & Indian Ocean Hotel Investors’ Summit, Baker writes that experts feel there are reasons for optimism in Africa, although there are some gaps in the existing hotel inventory.

“The biggest demand is from locals driving midscale and economy segments, and most assets are under 100 keys, although there is a gap for luxury products in key cities,” said Bani Haddad, managing director of Middle East development at Dream Hotel Group. “What is encouraging is that we are at the beginning of the cycle for many of these countries, and it is a beautiful market for investors.”

Hilton, Wyndham kick off hotel earnings season: Wyndham Worldwide and Hilton led the way for fourth-quarter and full-year earnings reports for publicly traded hotel companies Wednesday morning.

Hilton has announced full-year, system-wide revenue per available room growth of 1.8% in 2016 and 0.9% for Q4. In the company’s latest earnings release, official touted “record pipeline and net unit growth” in 2016. Net units grew by roughly 45,000 rooms, and the company currently has approximately 310,000 rooms in 1,968 hotels in the pipeline.

Wyndham, meanwhile, saw Q4 RevPAR grow 2.9% year over year, while overall, full-year revenue numbers were largely static for Wyndham Hotel Group—coming in at roughly $1.3 billion both years.

SoftBank to buy Fortress for $3.3 billion: Japanese SoftBank Group has announced plans for a $3.3-billion acquisition of Fortress Investment Group, which Reuters reports will help SoftBank “launch the world’s largest private equity fund.”

New York-based Fortress Investment Group describes itself as a “highly diversified global investment management firm,” and has in the past targeted hotels as investments in both the realm of ownership and management. In 2014, the company publicly proclaimed its interest in Japanese hotels in anticipation of that country’s ramp up to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Compiled by Sean McCracken.

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