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Chinese Investment Group Agrees to Acquire Carlson Hotels

BEIJING AND MINNETONKA, MINN. — HNA Tourism Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese conglomerate with stakes in industries such as aviation and real estate, has entered into an agreement to purchase Carlson Hotels Inc., which owns the Radisson and Country Inns & Suites hotel brands. The purchase price for the Minnetonka-based hotel company and its hotels was undisclosed.

“Carlson Hotels owns a powerful set of global brands and this historic agreement provides tremendous opportunities for growth,” says David Berg, CEO of Carlson Hospitality Group. “We look forward to working within HNA Tourism Group, a greatly respected global enterprise, in what will be an exciting new chapter in the history of Carlson Hotels. As part of HNA Tourism Group, Carlson Hotels will have an opportunity to advance our commitment to providing guests with hospitality worldwide.”

HNA Tourism Group Carlson Hotels

Bai Haibo, chairman and CEO of HNA Hospitality Group, shakes hands with David Berg, CEO of Carlson Hospitality Group. In the background, from left to right, Chen Wenli, vice chairman of HNA Group; Wang Jian, chairman of HNA Group (not visible); Diana Nelson, board chairwoman of Carlson Hotels; Cheng Feng, chairman of board members of HNA Group (not visible); Tan Xiangdong, CEO of HNA Group; and Li Tie, CEO of HNA Tourism Group.

Founded in 1938 by Curt Carlson, Carlson Hotels’ portfolio now spans 1,400 hotels in operation and under development with more than 220,000 rooms. The hotels are spread across 115 countries and territories. The company and its branded hotels employ roughly 90,000 people.

“We have great respect for the Carlson family and a deep appreciation for its history and special culture,” says Bai Haibo, board member of HNA Tourism Group and chairman and CEO of HNA Hospitality Group, the hotel management arm of HNA Tourism Group.

The HNA Tourism acquisition is the latest in a string of deals and offers by Chinese investors to purchase hotel entities. Early last month, Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group Co. agreed to purchase Strategic Hotels & Resorts, which owns 16 hotels throughout the U.S., for roughly $6.5 billion. Anbang also was a key player in the push to purchase Starwood Hotels & Resorts but ultimately rescinded its $14 billion offer. In 2015, Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels Group purchased France-based Louvre Hotels Group for about $1.37 billion.

The Carlson Hotels transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2016. As part of the acquisition agreement, Carlson Hotels will keep its headquarters in Minnetonka and Berg will remain the company’s CEO.

Legal advisors for this transaction include Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Advokatfirman Vinge KB as legal advisors to Carlson Hotels and Hogan Lovells and Advokatfirman Lindahl KB as legal advisors to HNA Tourism Group.

Financial advisors for this transaction include Morgan Stanley and BDT & Co. as financial advisors to Carlson Hotels and J.P. Morgan and Benedetto, Gartland & Co. as financial advisors to HNA Tourism Group.

In addition to Radisson and Country Inns, brands in The Carlson Hotels portfolio include Quorvus Collection, Park Plaza and Park Inn by Radisson.

Founded in Beijing in March 2007, HNA Tourism Group owns more than 20 subsidiaries including Capital Airlines, Deer Jet, Tangla Hotels and Resorts and Caissa Touristic. The Fortune 500 company is also a majority investor in global travel and hospitality brands such as NH Hotels, Red Lion Hotels and PVCP Group.

— John Nelson

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