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CORRECTED - CORRECTED-Accor launches Pullman in China, expands globally

(Corrects first paragraph to ..by 2010 ..., not 2011)

SHANGHAI, March 28 (Reuters) - Accor ACCP.PA, Europe's largest hotelier, said on Friday it would open five Pullman hotels in China by 2010, part of plans to grow its three-month-old Pullman brand globally.

By the end of this year, Accor aims to have 56 Pullman hotels in 23 countries, and will further boost that number fivefold to 300 by 2015, Paris-based Accor said in a statement. One third of Pullman hotels will be in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Pullman brand, which was launched last December and targets mainly business travellers, will tap Asia’s fastest growing business travel and conference markets, Accor Asia Pacific Chairman Michael Issenberg said in the statement.

Accor, owner of Sofitel and Novotel brands, competes with rivals such as InterContinental Hotels Plc IHG.L and Hilton Hotels Corp in wooing business and leisure travellers in emerging Asian markets such as China.

Accor said last May that it expected to double revenue from Asia in three or four years by ramping up a plan to expand across China, aiming to have as many as 160 hotels in operation or under development across the country by 2010, compared with 103 at that time.

The first Pullman hotel in China was opened in Dongguan, a city in southern Guangdong province, while another four will be opened in cities including Beijing and northern Tianjin.

Pullman derived its name from the opulent Pullman railway carriages that redefined overnight railway travel in the United States, and later in Europe in the 1860’s.

Accor last year launched its rebranded luxury Sofitel chain in China, hoping to double average-room rates in the next three years. The French company also operates budget Ibis chains in China, where it competes with local rivals such as Home Inns & Hotel Management Inc HMIN.O and Jin Jiang International Hotel (Group) Co 2006.HK. (Reporting by Samuel Shen; Editing by Ken Wills)

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