| HONG KONG
HONG KONG U.S. buyout fund Carlyle Group LP (CG.O) said on Thursday it has acquired 49 percent and effective control of China's Mandarin Hotel Holdings Ltd for an undisclosed sum, seeking to tap into strong growth for the nation's mid-tier hotel sector.
A burgeoning middle-class and growing domestic consumer spending has helped revenues for the mid-tier hotel segment climb around 15 percent annually over the last three to five years, said Eric Zhang, a managing director at Carlyle who will be Mandarin Hotel's co-chairman.
Zhang told Reuters that Carlyle will have effective control despite having less than 50 percent of the company but declined to give further details of the structure of the investment.
Mandarin Hotel Holdings, which is not related to the Mandarin Oriental (MOIL.SI) chain, owns and operates 25 hotels under the Crystal Orange Hotel and Orange Hotel brands.
The hotels target business and leisure travelers and are located in Beijing, Dalian, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo and Tianjin, with rooms priced from 300 yuan to 700 yuan ($47 to $110) per night.
Wu Hai, founder and CEO of Mandarin Hotel Holdings, in the same telephone interview said the company is opening a new hotel in Shanghai, and is looking at properties in Shenzhen.
Zhang said that the company does not plan to raise capital to finance new developments, since it leases space and does not need to acquire buildings or land.
He added it was too early to discuss a possible IPO for privately held Mandarin Hotel.
Carlyle made the investment from its Carlyle Asia Partners III L.P. fund. The firm has invested approximately $4 billion in more than 60 deals in China.
($1 = 6.3477 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Stephen Aldred; Editing by Chris Lewis and Edwina Gibbs)