(Recasts with comments from company spokesman)
SHANGHAI, Nov 19 (Reuters) - U.S. buyout firm Carlyle [CYL.UL] is in exclusive talks with New Century Tourism Group to invest in the largest Chinese privately run hospitality firm, a New Century spokesman said on Monday.
“We have been holding exclusive talks with Carlyle for several months, but no final agreement has been signed yet,” the spokesman said by telephone from his company’s headquarters in the southeastern city of Hangzhou.
“There are no foreign shareholders in our company yet,” he said, adding that he could not provide more information on the talks because the company had signed a confidentiality agreement with Carlyle.
He declined to confirm or deny a newspaper report on Monday that said the Chinese company had received 340 million yuan ($45.78 million) in a first-phase investment from Carlyle.
The China Business News quoted New Century chairman Chen Miaolin as saying the Chinese company expected to receive the remainder of the $100 million that Carlyle had promised to invest in New Century early next year.
Chen told Reuters in an interview in December that New Century was in talks with private equity firms to bring in an investment of more than US$200 million ahead of a Hong Kong IPO.
Overseas private equity firms, such as Carlyle and the investment arm of Goldman Sachs (GS.N), have flocked to China, hoping to tap the country’s booming economy.
The newspaper quoted Chen as saying the hotel owner and manager, with total assets of more than 6 billion yuan, planned to list in Hong Kong in 2008 or 2009 and wanted to boost the number of its hotels to about 35 by 2010 from more than 20 now.
The spokesman said New Century had been seeking to expand its presence in China’s booming but highly competitive hotel industry through a combination of forms, including equity investment and franchises.
New Century runs hotels in the southeastern province of Zhejiang, the cities of Beijing and Shanghai, the eastern province of Jiangsu and Henan province in central China, he said, adding that all of its hotels carry the “kaiyuan” brandname and are rated above four stars.
(Reporting by Charlie Zhu; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree)