Middle Eastern investors are expected to remain active hotel buyers this year despite a weakening oil prices.
“Western Europe and the US will attract more and more Middle Eastern investors,” said Chiheb Ben Mahmoud, the head of hotels and hospitality for Middle East and Africa at JLL.
“Depending on their portfolios and investment styles and strategies, some other Middle Eastern investors will be interested by off-road ventures in newly emerging destinations with different risk return propositions.”
While the falling price of oil was widely expected to have an impact on international hotel acquisitions, it has not yet been felt.
“We are talking about the global capital market and it is affected by a large number of factors,” said Mr Ben Mahmoud.
Brent oil fell to about $47.47 per barrel last week from $96.97 a year ago. During the first half of this year, about $10 billion was spent by Middle East investors buying hotels in Europe and the United States, he said.
But some regional investors are looking to exit their hotel assets.Qatar-backed Katara Hospitality is in talks to sell the luxury hotel chain Fairmont, according to UK media reports last month.
Among the investors in FRHI Hotels and Resorts is Saudi prince Al Waleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding.
The hotel chain operates the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands.
In May, the group opened the 252-room Fairmont Ajman. One of the potential buyers of Fairmont is InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which is also eyeing Mövenpick, according to media reports.
IHG did not immediately return emails and FHRI said the reports were speculative.
JLL expects 2015 to be a bumper year for hotel transactions, according to Mr Ben Mahmoud.
The value of deals is expected to exceed US$65 billion, up by 15 per cent over last year’s volumes. Transaction volumes in the Americas could reach $34.5bn, followed by Europe, the Middle East and Africa at $24.7bn and Asia Pacific at $8.5bn, according to a JLL report in January. “Last year, Asian investors represented 43.2 per cent of the cross-border hotel transactions, and the flow of money from Asia into the mature markets of North America, Europe and Australia is anticipated to keep rising,” according to EY analysts.
This week, Katara Hospitality announced it would buy the 316-room The Westin Excelsior Rome from Starwood Hotels & Resorts for €222 million.
Katara has 35 properties in operation or under development worldwide, and expects to add 26 more by 2026.
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