• M&C looks at asset sales

City Developments, the parent of Millennium & Copthorne, is considering a swoop on distressed assets in Asia, particularly Vietnam, as early as next year.

And part of the cash for such acquisitions may come from unloading some of M&C's hotels, indicated the company.

CDL, which owns 53% of M&C, said in its half-year results statement that M&C would "continue to review and evaluate the potential of its hotel assets, especially since many of its hotels were bought at a low cost and have since appreciated in value".

It added: "When the opportunity arises, it may unlock the capital value of its assets, such as in the case of the recent disposal of Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel."

CDL is also looking at raising debt to fund deals, including a Sing$1bn through what would be Singapore's first corporate Islamic unsecured financing arrangement.

In M&C's own results conference call, CEO Richard Hartman said that growth in Asia had slowed during June and July. Asia provides more than a third of M&C's revenue.

Pre-tax profit at M&C in the first half was up 9.2% to £60.3m and group revpar was up 6.0%. Chairman Kwek Leng Beng said that strong performance in Singapore, New York and London was offset by slower growth in regional UK and New Zealand. Singapore showed a 33.3% increase in revpar.

HA Perspective: Despite the hints by CDL it seems improbable that M&C is set for a significant sell-off of its assets. The difficult financing environment is set to limit the number of potential buyers for some time.

And the trading performance for M&C, while robust at present, surprised many with comments about weakness in Asia. It is also hard to agree with M&C's claim that it would benefit from the customers trading down from luxury hotels to its own four-star or upscale properties.

Perhaps most challenging for M&C is that it is likely to suffer significantly more than its asset light rivals as the downturn bites. Its ownership of hotels means it is highly geared to the trading environment and its fledgling management wing, despite adding eight contracts in the Middle East in the period, is unlikely to provide much of a counter.

Share →