China's HNA Group agrees to buy Carlson Hotels

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) - A division of Chinese aviation and shipping conglomerate HNA Group has agreed to buy the owner of the Radisson hotel chain in a deal that will nearly quadruple the number of its hotels around the world.

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HNA Tourism Group, part of HNA Group Co Ltd [HNAIRC.UL], will buy 100 percent of U.S-based Carlson Hotels Inc for an undisclosed sum, including its 51.3 percent stake in Rezidor Hotel Group REZT.ST AB, the companies said late on Wednesday.

The deal will give HNA hotel brands including Radisson, Park Plaza, Country Inns & Suites and 1,400 hotels in 115 countries, adding to HNA’s current portfolio of 500 hotels.

The companies did not disclose the deal value, though Bloomberg said last month Carlson could fetch about $2 billion.

Chinese companies have been on a buying spree this year, targeting assets from hotels to chipmakers to chemicals firms as they diversify out of their slowing home market.

Announced outbound Chinese mergers and acquisitions (M&A) have already reached $94.8 billion this year, compared with the record $103.6 billion for 2015, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Prior to HNA's deal, Fosun International Ltd 0656.HK bought France's Club Mediterranee while Anbang Insurance Group acquired the famous Waldorf Astoria in New York.

HNA Tourism CEO Bai Haibo said the company would build on the well-known Radisson brand to help “establish our presence in the U.S. market and expand our footprint in hospitality internationally”.

Carlson Hotels employs about 90,000 people worldwide.

After the deal HNA will have to decide whether to sell down its holding in Rezidor Hotel Group to below 30 percent or launch a mandatory public tender for the remaining 48.7 percent of the company, the firms said in the statement.

Rezidor shares were up 6.2 percent at 1210 GMT on Thursday.

Under the stewardship of co-founder and Chairman Chen Feng, HNA has grown into a group with nearly $100 billion in assets.

Founded in 1993, it operates more than a dozen airlines including flagship Hainan Airlines Co Ltd 600221.SS and has launched at least $8 billion of overseas M&A so far this year.

The Carlson Hotels transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close during 2016.

Morgan Stanley MS.N was the financial adviser to Carlson Hotels, while J.P. Morgan JPM.N advised HNA Tourism Group.

Editing by Richard Pullin and David Clarke