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Asia300

Thai hotel group Minor extends overseas diversification

Tivoli Carvoeiro, one of the Minor group's Portuguese acquisitions

BANGKOK -- Having completed its largest-ever acquisition in February, Thailand's hotel and restaurant conglomerate Minor International said Wednesday it plans to generate half of its sales abroad by 2020, up from 44% in 2015 and 18% in 2008.

     In February, the company acquired Tivoli Hotels and Resorts, a Portugal-based chain of 14 properties, for 294.2 million euro ($322 million). It believes it can expand the Tivoli brand into other markets Minor is already operating in, such as Asia, Africa or the Middle East.

     Including the Tivoli deal, Minor has spent $550 million over the past two years on hotel projects in Africa, Asia, Australia, South America and Europe to diversify away from what was a Thailand-centered portfolio. Currently, 66% of the group's hotel revenue is from outside Thailand, against only 6% in 2008.

     Bangkok accounts for just 12% of current revenue, helping the company mitigate the impact of political developments such as the anti-government rallies that blocked the capital's streets from late 2013 and the military coup that followed in 2014.

     Hotels and residential properties, covering both business and tourist markets, account for 50% of Minor's revenue. Most of the remaining half comes from restaurant operations, an area in which the company has also aggressively expanded overseas.

     Chaiyapat Paitoon, vice president of strategic planning, told reporters in Bangkok on Wednesday that the company plans to invest around 40 billion baht ($1.12 billion) in the coming five years. While 20 billion to 30 billion baht will be spent on expanding existing businesses, 14 billion to 15 billion baht will be reserved for new investments, including acquisitions. But the sum could vary depending on the size of the deal, he said.

     "M&A could be one of the drivers to grow," Chaiyapat said, but insisted that the group could maintain growth without it.

     In its new five-year plan through 2020, the company aims to increase the number of hotels under management to 210 from 138 in 2015 and its restaurants are set to reach 3,100 from 1,851.

     Minor was founded by U.S.-born William Heinecke who is now a Thai national. Heinecke and a group of investors associated with him currently own 33 per cent of the company. Thai monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej owns a two per cent stake. It enhanced its international presence in 2011 after the takeover of Australia's hotel chain Oaks Hotels and Resorts. Currently, it operates in 32 countries including Thailand.

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