* Plans to rebalance in next 3 years
* Asia-Pacific demand showing double-digit growth
* Seeks acquisition worldwide, no limitation on capital
* Looking for mid-scale, upscale growth opportunities in
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Accor,
Europe's largest hotel group, is seeking to add around 5,000
rooms annually through acquisitions worldwide as it shifts focus
away from weaker markets in Europe, its chief executive has told
Chairman and Chief Executive Denis Hennequin said he had
effectively unlimited capital available along with 1.7 billion
euros in credit and would for example take any opportunities
that arise to expand its midscale and upscale brands in the
He said Accor saw demand growing in the Asia-Pacific area
and planned to shift its focus toward that region in the next
three years as it rebalances away from Europe, adding a total of
around 40,000 rooms annually including organic growth.
"When you look at the demand worldwide you see there is a
bit of a slowdown in southern Europe. Italy, Spain and Portugal
are suffering," Hennequin told Reuters in an interview.
"In Asia-Pacific it is still double-digit growth as well as
in Latin America. Here in the Middle East it is quite strong ...
Africa is rebounding."
The French group, which runs more than 4,400 hotels ranging
from the luxury Sofitel to the budget Ibis chains, currently
generates about 70 percent of its income in its home continent.
"I'm opening 110,000 rooms, 70 percent of which are outside
of Europe, because I want to find another balance, which is 50
percent of our profits from Europe and 50 percent outside of
Europe by 2016," he said.
Of the 110,000 rooms to be added, around 50 percent will be
in the Asia-Pacific region, 20 percent will be in emerging
markets including the Middle East and Africa, and 30 percent in
Europe, Hennequin said.
The firm is seeking acquisition opportunities worldwide and
aiming for acquisitions that give a return of at least 15
percent in "reasonable size" hotels. "We have no limitation on
capital and have a 1.7 billion (euro) ($2.17 billion) line of
credit that we haven't used," Hennequin said.
"There are acquisitions that can be made all around the
world ... I am not limiting myself to one part of the world or
one region...Our ambition is worldwide."
Accor plans to open around 40,000 rooms each year, of which
around 5,000 will be made through acquisitions and the rest
through organic growth. "This year we are not done with the year
but I will open more than 35,000," Hennequin said.
The company is the world's fourth largest hotel group,
behind the InterContinental, Mariott and
Accor sold its discount Motel 6 chain in the United States
for $1.9 billion in May, and is looking at growth opportunities
in mid-scale and upscale brands in the United States.
"If there are opportunities to grow with our mid-scale
brands, or upscale brands like Pullman, or MGallery or Sofitel,
I will take those opportunities," Hennequin said.
Accor said in October its third-quarter revenue growth
slowed to 1.3 percent versus 3.1 percent in the second quarter,
after business conditions in southern Europe
Hennequin reaffirmed the company's previous forecast for
2012 earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) in a range of
510-530 million euros, "the expectation for the year being at
least in line with the previous year."
($1 = 0.7823 euros)
(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Andrew Torchia and