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AccorHotels CEO Sébastien Bazin on Jin Jiang stake rise

During the presentation of the group's 2015 full-year results, CEO Sébastien Bazin discusses the increase of Chinese operator Jin Jiang's stake in AccorHotels to 6.03%, to become top shareholder in Europe's largest hotel group.

Predictably enough, Jin Jiang's recently increased holding in AccorHotels via international subsidiary Rubyrock Capital Company Limited intrigued analysts and financial journalists. Chief Executive Sébastien Bazin did not ignore the question.

"When we tried to redirect our strategy in Mainland China by choosing a local partner, I personally met with company executives of the five largest hotel groups, including Chairman Yu, CEO of Jin Jiang, who expressed strong interest in the group and its development," Sébastien Bazin explained. "The group was already a symbolic shareholder. AccorHotels chose to focus on another partner, Huazhu Hotels Group, chaired by Qi Ji, because it is a privately-owned operator managed by a "serial entrepreneur", interested in a partnership on the Chinese mainland only. Chairman Yu would have preferred to broaden the scope of our relations to Asia as a whole."

This did not prevent Jin Jiang from rising to the next level by buying listed stocks as AccorHotels market prices went down by 25% within a few months. An opportunistic operation? "I recently met again with Chairman Yu," Sébastien Bazin said. "He reiterated his interest in the group and its growth channels. I am pleased about his appreciation, and welcome him as a sound investor who seized the right opportunity to strengthen its position - albeit with a drawback. Jin Jiang is clearly not a shareholder like any other, as it owns 100% of our main competitor in Europe. There will be limitations as to the strategic information shared with shareholders. If the group decides to cross another threshold - that of 10% - it will have to clearly state its intentions. That is the rule on capital markets. We have not yet reached that stage, and there is no specific requirement from Jin Jiang with respect to its participation."

At, the same time, AccorHotels ceo said he was pleased with the cooperation with Huazhu, justifying the recent finalization of a partnership agreement, with an 11% stake in the group's holding China Lodging, claiming a seat on the board of directors, and a nearly 30% stake of the Chinese group in Accor China, which manages operating contracts for midscale and luxury hotels throughout Chinese territory.

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