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Accor Aims To Conquer Africa With $1 Billion War Chest, Says Region CEO

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - AccorHotels’ (ACCP.PA) new Middle East and Africa CEO is taking aim at rivals including Radisson as he looks to capitalize on a billion-dollar war chest to further the biggest European hotel operator’s expansion in sub-Saharan Africa.

The French group announced in July that it was teaming up with Katara Hospitality - the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) sovereign wealth fund’s hospitality arm - to create a fund to invest in Africa.

The fund will invest in 40 hotels as Accor expands from the 114 hotels it operates in Africa under brands including Ibis, Novotel and Pullman.

With 70 percent of the existing properties being in North African markets, Mark Willis - appointed as the company’s Middle East and Africa chief this month - told Reuters that Accor is looking at opportunities in Cape Town, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Addis Ababa, Dakar, Abidjan and Kampala.

“There’s a variety of different things on the table. We have a number of deals about to close in those key destinations,” he said, adding that he believes there is a gap in the market for economy and mid-range accommodation.

In April AccorHotels acquired a 50 percent stake in South Africa’s Mantis Group, which runs a string of five-star properties and lodges around the world.

Accor’s established North African foothold, Willis said, was expected to serve as a springboard for the expansion push, since those same customers travel and do business across the continent.

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