Togo evicts hotel group Accor amid contract dispute

DAKAR/LOME, July 13 Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:59am EDT

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DAKAR/LOME, July 13 (Reuters) - Togo has ordered Europe's largest hotel group, Accor, to quit the country immediately or face more than 500,000,000 CFA francs ($1.05 million) in daily fines, according to the hotel group and court documents.

The order is the culmination of months of legal wrangling between the two parties over the renewal of Accor's rental agreement for its beachside Sarakawa hotel in Lome, the Togolese capital.

"The decision took effect immediately and therefore Accor has no other choice to stop operations at the hotel," the company said in a statement on Sunday, referring to an eviction order given on July 11.

Togo's government said it compelled to order Accord's expulsion "for neglecting its contractual obligations", a statement said.

The government said it plans a tender to find a new luxury operator for the site. A legal document from a Togo tribunal showed that the government had originally sought 1 billion CFA in daily fines for non-compliance with the eviction order.

Sub-Saharan Africa, once a niche market for hoteliers, is becoming an increasingly important region for large hotel groups like Marriott International, which are seeking a bigger stake in the $24 billion market.

The economy of former French colony Togo, which has resources of phosphate, iron and magnesium, is due to grow by 6 percent this year, providing potential opportunities for business travellers.

($1 = 477.75 CFA) (Reporting by Emma Farge and John Zodzi; Editing by Larry King)

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