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China's HNA to buy Carlson Hotels in acquisition binge

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Chinese conglomerate HNA will buy US-based Carlson Hotels, owner of the Radisson brand, the companies announced, as it looks to build its presence in the American market.

[SHANGHAI] Chinese conglomerate HNA will buy US-based Carlson Hotels, owner of the Radisson brand, the companies announced, as it looks to build its presence in the American market.

It is the third overseas acquisition announced by HNA in as many months and the latest in a long line of foreign forays by cashed up Chinese companies.

It also comes after a failed US$14 billion bid by another Chinese company, financial conglomerate Anbang, to buy Starwood Hotels.

HNA Tourism Group has agreed to buy Carlson Hotels, including its majority 51.3 per cent stake in Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel Group, from parent company Carlson Hospitality Group, a joint statement said.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Carlson, headquartered in Minnesota, has 1,400 hotels in operation and under development in 115 countries and territories. Rezidor is its master licensee with hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

HNA Hospitality Group chairman and chief executive officer Bai Haibo said in the statement the acquisition aimed to "establish our presence in the US market and expand our footprint in hospitality internationally".

HNA is best known as a parent of Hainan Airlines but it also has interests in tourism, hotels, financial services and real estate.

In February, HNA bought US technology distributor Ingram Micro for US$6.0 billion and earlier this month it made a US$1.5 billion offer for Swiss airline catering company Gategroup.

Its latest transaction has been approved by the Carlson board and is expected to close in the second half of this year, said the statement, posted on Carlson's website Wednesday.

HNA must decide whether to launch a mandatory public tender offer for the remaining shares in Rezidor or sell down its ownership to below 30 per cent, the companies added.

China has encouraged its domestic firms to look overseas for deals that improve their balance sheets and strengthen their operations as the economy slows at home.

State-owned China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) in February offered US$43 billion for Swiss pesticide and seed giant Syngenta, which will be the biggest-ever overseas acquisition by a Chinese firm if completed.

AFP