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Datapulse appoints ICP unit to manage Seoul hotel

MAINBOARD-LISTED Datapulse Technology has appointed ICP unit Travelodge Hotels Asia (TLA) to manage Hotel Aropa in Seoul, South Korea.

This was after its audit committee (AC) deemed the hotel management agreements entered with Travelodge Hotels Asia (TLA) to be on normal commercial terms and not prejudicial to the interests of the company and its minority shareholders.

TLA is wholly owned by Catalist-listed ICP Group, whose chairman and controlling shareholder is Datapulse chairman Aw Cheok Huat. Mr Aw owns 20.8 per cent in ICP, and also holds an indirect 10 per cent stake in Datapulse.

Due to his interest in the hotel management deal, Mr Aw excused himself from the hotel operator selection process’ discussion and deliberation, Datapulse said.

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The group said it went through "rigorous hotel operator selection process", which saw two other candidates being shortlisted by the group’s management and AC. A global commercial real estate services and investment management firm was also appointed as a consultant, and had recommended three hotel operators.

TLA was appointed based on the same selection criteria following the process, which also required the quotations of two other unrelated hotel operators. 

Datapulse also appointed an independent financial advisor (IFA) and a global hospitality and tourism consulting firm to assist in its review of the major terms of the hospitality agreements with TLA.

After considering the IFA and consulting firm findings, the AC said the hospitality agreement terms were found to be on normal commercial terms and not prejudicial to the interest of the company and its minority shareholders.

The AC recommended TLA’s appointment to the board – which also agreed with the appointment.

Hotel Aropa is the third Datapulse-related hotel to be managed by ICP’s TLA. Previously, TLA was appointed to manage Bay Hotel Singapore and the Holiday Inn Express Euljiro in Seoul, both of which Datapulse have minority stakes in.

In March, the group defended its decision to acquire Hotel Aropa in Seoul for 35 billion won after the deal came under some criticism. It reiterated at the time that it was paying less than an independent valuation for the hotel.

The group's expansion strategy and the Hotel Aropa acquisition were subsequently passed by shareholders at a following extraordinary general meeting.

Datapulse on Tuesday said Mr Aw has confirmed that he had no interest in the Hotel Aropa acquisition at the time of entering into the definitive agreements, as the hotel was acquired from an unrelated third party and the then manager of the hotel was not related to him.

Datapulse shares last traded at S$0.22 on Nov 8. ICP shares closed 12.5 per cent or 0.1 Singapore cent lower to 0.7 cent on Monday.