June 18, 2018 / 10:03 AM / a year ago

Thailand's Minor International confident bid for Spanish hotel group NH will succeed: CEO

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai hotels operator Minor International Pcl (MINT.BK) is confident of successfully acquiring Spanish hotel company NH Hotel Group SA (NHH.MC) by boosting its stake to 55 percent-65 percent, Minor’s chief executive told Reuters on Monday.

Chief Executive of Minor International Pcl, William E. Heinecke, poses during an interview with Reuters in Bangkok, Thailand, June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Chayut Setboonsarng

Minor, owner of luxury hotel Anantara Siam in Bangkok, launched Thailand’s biggest overseas hospitality takeover for NH earlier this month, valuing the Spanish hotel chain at 2.5 billion euros ($2.89 billion).

Some of NH’s investors were already “locked in” to sell their stakes to Minor, one of Thailand’s biggest hospitality companies, CEO William Heinecke said in an interview.

The Thai company has agreed to buy from China’s HNA, NH’s biggest shareholder, a 26.5 percent stake. Minor currently owns 29.8 percent of NH.

“We have a few commitments that will take place as soon as we have approval,” Heinecke said, adding that these would bring Minor’s shareholding in the Spanish company to nearly 39 percent.

After the firm crosses the 30 percent ownership threshold, Spanish law requires a full takeover be launched.

“We are anticipating we’re going to get somewhere between 55-65 percent,” Heinecke said.

A rival bid for NH is unlikely because Minor had already accrued a large stake, Heinecke said. NH rejected a bid from Grupo Barcelo in January because it was an asset exchange and not cash.

The U.S.-born Thai billionaire has been on a shopping spree since 2010 and has expanded Minor’s hospitality footprint in South Asia, Europe, Australia, and Africa. He was able to take advantage of the boom in tourism, which accounts for around 12 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product.

Minor owns and operates more than 150 hotels and resorts under brands including Four Seasons and Marriott. In 2016, it bought 14 hotels from Portugal’s Tivoli.

Minor is still “acquisitive” and was on the lookout for deals in the hotel and food industry, Heinecke said.

Forbes ranks Heinecke as Thailand’s 17th richest man, with an estimated net worth of $1.64 billion, mainly derived from his family’s 33 percent stake in Minor, which has a market value of around $5 billion.

Heinecke, 69, made his fortune bringing in western-style service restaurants such as Pizza Hut and Mister Donut to the country.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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