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Carlson Hotels Sends Radisson & Friends to China


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Carlson Hotels Inc., the Minneapolis-based parent company of Radisson, Park Plaza, Quorvus Collection and other hotel flags, has been sold to China’s HNA Tourism Group amid a wave of consolidation in the red-hot hotel industry.

HNA, a Fortune Global 500 company with operations in aviation, tourism, hospitality, finance and online services, acquired a 51.3 percent stake in Carlson’s Rezidor Hotel Group and, as reported, may eventually claim all of Rezidor in the future. A sale price wasn’t released with the announcement, but some experts suggest the sale could fetch as much as $2 billion for the family-run Carlson Companies.

The news comes weeks after China’s Anbang Insurance Group entered the bidding for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, to much media coverage, but later abandoned its bid for the American hotel giant that is now in talks to merge with Marriott International.

According to the official release, the combination of HNA Tourism Group and Carlson Hotels will increase the combined entity’s ability to accelerate growth in digital, major gateway cities and, specifically, the build-out of Radisson’s new RED brand.

In this populism-driven presidential election cycle, corporate inversions and foreign takeovers have become a heated topic, however that should pose no risk to the completion of this transaction beyond the standard regulatory approval process.

“Carlson Hotels own a powerful set of global brands and this historic agreement provides tremendous opportunities for growth,” said David P. Berg, Carlson Hospitality Group chief executive officer. “We look forward to working within HNA Tourism Group, a greatly respected global enterprise, in what will be an exciting new chapter in the history of Carlson Hotels. As part of HNA Tourism Group, Carlson Hotels will have an opportunity to advance our commitment to providing guests with hospitality worldwide."

“Since my grandfather, Curt Carlson, founded our company in 1938, our family has run businesses that create opportunity for people and positive change in the world,” said Diana Nelson, Carlson Board chairwoman. “Hospitality is in our hearts, which made this a difficult decision. We strongly believe that selling our hotel business to HNA Tourism Group, a company that fully recognizes its value and heritage, is the best way for us to position it for success and to be true to my grandfather’s legacy in the long term.”

“We have great respect for the Carlson family and a deep appreciation for its history and special culture,” said Haibo Bai, HNA Tourism Group board member and HNA Hospitality Group chairman and CEO. “Carlson Hotels’ global success and strong, sustainable growth potential is a testament to their world-class brands, continuous innovation, excellent management, and unique employee-focused culture, all of which we will build upon as part of this combination to establish our presence in the U.S. market and expand our footprint in hospitality internationally. We look forward to working together with their management team, employees, franchisee partners, suppliers and customers to accelerate growth by investing substantially in the business.”

Under terms of the agreement, which were unanimously approved by the Carlson Board of Directors, HNA Tourism Group will acquire all of Carlson Hotels, including its approximately 51.3 percent majority stake in Rezidor Hotel Group AB, Carlson Hotel’s master licensee based in Brussels, with hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The transaction is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the second half of (calendar) 2016.

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