HNA Tourism Group, a unit of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, has agreed to buy Carlson Hotels — the hotel business of family-owned Carlson Hospitality Group — which owns the Radisson, Park Plaza and Quorvus Collection brands, the two companies announced in a joint statement late Wednesday. As part of the transaction, HNA will also acquire Carlson’s 51.3 percent stake in Belgium-based Rezidor Hotel Group, Carlson’s master licensee that operates hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Diana Nelson, chairwoman of the Carlson board and granddaughter of company founder Curt Carlson, said: “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.”
The statement by the companies did not reveal the value of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approvals and expected to close in the second half of this year. The Carlson Hotels headquarters will remain in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
HNA Tourism will also launch a mandatory public offer for the remaining shares in Rezidor within four weeks of the transaction closing, failing which it will have to reduce its stake in Rezidor to below 30 percent.
“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,” Haibo Bai, HNA Tourism Group board member and HNA Hospitality Group chairman and CEO, said.
The brands that will change hands include the Radisson, Radisson Blu, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, Country Inns & Suites by Carlson and Quorvus Collection hotel chains, as well as the Club Carlson hotel rewards programs. Together, they operate about 1,400 hotels with 220,000 rooms in 115 countries around the world.
HNA Group, which has interests in aviation, shipping, financial services, real estate, retail and logistics, besides tourism and hotels, was included in the Fortune Global 500 list in July last year, and has been on an overseas acquisition spree in the last few months. It bought a cargo handling service in Switzerland in July, an office building in London’s Canary Wharf financial district in August, is in the process of acquiring Ingram Micro in a deal valued at about $6 billion and also announced the $1.5 billion acquisition of Swiss airline caterer Gategroup earlier this month.
Chinese companies have been making record-breaking acquisitions overseas. Within the hospitality industry, China’s Anbang Insurance Group bought the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York from Hilton for $1.95 billion in 2014. Anbang also made a $14 billion offer for Starwood Hotels earlier this year, which it later withdrew.