Accor sees no private equity interest

The publicly traded French hotel group’s chief executive says he has had no approach from an interested private equity bidder.

Gilles Pelisson, the chief executive of French hotel group Accor, says the company has received no takeover approaches from private equity firms despite speculation in the market.

During a conference call with reporters to discuss the company’s first half results, Pelisson said that despite recent rumors that KKR had expressed interest in the company, it has received no such bid from any private equity firm. KKR has also denied the rumor.

The speculation was prompted by Blackstone’s bid for Hilton Hotels in July. That bid caused shares in Accor to hit a record €75.32 when investors suspected the French company might receive a similar offer.

Accor manages 470,000 bedrooms in almost 4,000 hotels across 90 countries. Its hotels are operated under a series of brand names, notably Novotel, Mercure, Sofitel, Suitehotel, Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn. It also owns travel agencies including Accor Vacances and ClubMed, as well as restaurants and casinos. In addition, it manages a services segment of the company called Accor Services.

Blackstone’s Hilton bid wasn’t the only recent private equity activity recently around hotel chains. In April, Swedish buyout manager Accent Equity bought 17 percent of the largest hotel chain in Sweden, Scandic Hotels. The firm acquired the stake from rival Swedish buyout firm EQT Partners, which agreed in early March to acquire the hospitality company from Hilton Hotels Corporation for €733 million ($996 million). Also in the past year, Hilton sold ten hotels to Morgan Stanley’s real estate arm for $750 million and real estate specialist JER bought US hotel chain Highland REIT for $2 billion.

According to statistics from financial information group Dealogic, so far in 2007 total hotel buyouts just in the US have been valued at $27.5 billion (€20 billion), compared with $3.9 billion over the same period last year, an increase of over 600 percent.