Featured in this EMEA Hospitality Newsletter - Week Ending 16 January 2004
Quinn Cements Mighty Deal In Prague
Pedersen Stakes More Than £40 Million On Four Queens
Ritz-Carlton: Putting On The Hard Hat
AC Hotels Gains A Foothold In Leghorn
Vincci Gets The Brushes Out
HerAx Swings Into Action; Accor Heeds The Swish
Marriott Scores A Hat-Trick In Qatar
Hunguest Guests Should Prepare For April
Wilson And Thomas To Leave M&C
Thistle Allow NH Hoteles Access To The UK
Accor Excels

Quinn Cements Mighty Deal In Prague
The Quinn Group would probably prefer it if you carved its name with pride in concrete rather than stone to commemorate its making what is being hailed as the largest single asset transaction in the Czech Republic. The Irish company did not disclose the price it paid for the 788-room Hilton Prague, nor for the 226-room Ibis Praha Karlin, which came as part of the deal, but at least two newspapers back home in Ireland gave a figure of €145 million for the two hotels. Quinn Group purchased both properties from DB Real Estate Global Opportunities Fund IA and private real estate investment company Highridge; Hilton International retains the right to manage the five-star hotel. The Irish Times suggests that this deal is merely the beginning of Quinn Group's further expansion into the hotel sector.

Pedersen Stakes More Than £40 Million On Four Queens Return to Headlines
The Times noted last October that London-based property investor Maurice Gourgey was on the trail of five UK hotels operated by Queens Moat Houses. At the end of last week, four-fifths of the newspaper's prophecy was fulfilled as Mr Gourgey's Pedersen Group (UK) paid the Bank of Scotland more than £40 million for the 114-room Holiday Inn Reading, the 128-room Holiday Inn Bristol, the 95-room Moat House Sheffield and the 71-room Moat House Winchester. Pedersen will take the managerial reins at three of the properties, with the Reading hotel retaining the Holiday Inn franchise. Accor though has taken the lease on the sister property in Bristol, which has been renamed the Novotel Bristol. The hotel will now enjoy a year-long refurbishment costing a reported £2 million.

Ritz-Carlton: Putting On The Hard Hat Return to Headlines
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company this week opened its second hotel in Germany, the 302-room The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin, and, according to a report in the German press, the company used the occasion to announce that a third property in the country was on the way. Next month the bulldozers are to close in on the Breidenbacher Hof, a former five-star hotel in the western city of Düsseldorf; a Ritz-Carlton hotel will rise from the rubble by May 2006. In neighbouring Austria, meanwhile, Italy's Tivigest Vacanze is reported to be interested in acquiring hotels in the western city of Innsbruck and in other locations in the province of Tyrol.

AC Hotels Gains A Foothold In Leghorn Return to Headlines
AC Hotels now has its fourth property in Italy after the opening of the 104-room, four-star AC Livorno. The hotel is the first fruit of the union between AC and its Spanish compatriot H10 Hotels; the two got together last autumn under the name AC 10 Hotels specifically for adventures in Italy. Reports at the time said that the joint venture had €160 million to spend on reaching a target of 13 hotels in the country by 2005.

Vincci Gets The Brushes Out Return to Headlines
Spanish chain Vincci Hoteles is set to spend a reported €9 million on the renovation of the Capitol Hotel in Madrid with a view to reopening the 150-room property at the end of this year. Meanwhile, its compatriot Hesperia Hoteles has crossed the Pyrenees into Andorra for its renovation exercise. The Eden Roc Hotel in the capital Andorra la Vella will emerge from the work this August as the 60-room, four-star Hesperia Andorra. Back in Hesperia's home city of Barcelona, Aena Airports is mulling over the findings of a study it commissioned from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya that suggests that four hotels would be ideal for the planned 'airport city' at Barcelona Airport.

HerAx Swings Into Action; Accor Heeds The Swish Return to Headlines
Property firm the Heron Corporation and insurance company AXA Sun Life got together last September to each inject a reported £70 million into a new property investment fund they named HerAx. Four months on and the fund has paid out on its first deal: a £40 million sale and leaseback of three Accor hotels in the UK. The properties involved, on all three of which Accor takes a 25-year lease, are the 106-room Ibis Hull, the 124-room Novotel Milton Keynes and the 182-room Novotel London City South on the south bank of the Thames in Southwark. With the help of interested institutional investors, HerAx aims to swell the fund's coffers to £1 billion by 2007 to enable further pursuit of property in the UK. And it certainly has expensive tastes: no building, be it hotel, office, warehouse or retail, will be considered unless it is worth at least £10 million.

Marriott Scores A Hat-Trick In Qatar Return to Headlines
Marriott International has signed a management agreement with the Al Rayan Tourism Investment Company that will usher three new hotels into the Qatari capital Doha in 2007. A 250-room Renaissance hotel, a 200-room Courtyard by Marriott and a Marriott Executive Apartments property of 120 units will bring Marriott's portfolio in the country to four. Elsewhere in the region, the Bahrain Hotels Company is to spend at least US$8 million adding 101 serviced apartments to its Gulf Hotel complex. A splendid enhancement no doubt, but one that pales in comparison to the plans drawn up by the Bahraini Gulf Finance House for the US$600 million Al Areen Desert Spa and Resort south of the capital Manama. The complex, which will boast a number of themed hotels, should be fully operational by 2007.

Hunguest Guests Should Prepare For April Return to Headlines
Hunguest Hotels has ringed 3 April on its calendar as the day set for the opening of the 134-room, four-star Hunguest Grandhotel Galya, which since September has been enjoying a programme of renovation up in the mountains of northeastern Hungary, in Galyatetö. Bulgarian construction company Glavbulgarstroi is heading for southern Russia, where it is to build a hotel – due to open in 2005 – in the city of Vladikavkaz. Another company straying beyond its country's borders is the Swiss firm, not named in reports, that is to build an US$89 million tourist resort near the Croatian coastal town of Trogir.

Wilson And Thomas To Leave M&C Return to Headlines
John Wilson is to retire as Millennium & Copthorne Hotels' (M&C) Chief Executive on 1 March after six years in the job. During M&C's search for a successor joint responsibility for the role will be taken up by Chief Operating Officer Tony Potter and Executive Director Wong Hong Ren. Also departing from the company, after five years' service, is Group Finance Director and Company Secretary David Thomas, who is to become GAME Group's new Finance Director.

Thistle Allow NH Hoteles Access To The UK Return to Headlines
Thistle Hotels and NH Hoteles have formed a sales and marketing alliance, initially for one year, that will allow each party access to markets hitherto unexplored. Thus, Thistle can investigate the likes of Spain and central Europe, for example, whereas NH's first destination will be Asia; the UK will also be high on its itinerary.

Accor Excels Return to Headlines
You may notice a new exhibit on your next trip to the ExCeL centre in the London Docklands: the 278-room Ibis London ExCeL. But delay your journey until next month and you will get the bonus of having a second Accor work to admire, the 257-room Novotel London ExCeL. Elsewhere in the capital, a 70-room extension to the 240-room, five-star Grange City Hotel is to be executed at Tower Hill.

Absolute Share Price Performance Over the Past Week 08/01/04-15/01/04

NH Hoteles - The share price responded to the company's announcement that trading in the fourth quarter of 2003 had been better than expected.

InterContinental Hotels Group - Deutsche Bank raised its target price on the shares to 635p from 575p, and kept its 'Buy' rating.

Millennium & Copthorne - Investors will be concerned at the departure of the CEO and the Finance Director. Morgan Stanley retains its 'Underweight' rating.