SAUDI SOVEREIGN FUND SEEKS 15% STAKE IN ACCOR’S UNIT

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is in talks to buy a 15 percent stake in Accor SA’s property business in a transaction that could value the unit at about 6.2 billion euros ($7.64 billion), according to people familiar with the matter.

Public Investment Fund, known as PIF, is buying a stake alongside Singapore’s state-owned GIC Pte, French asset manager Amundi SA and U.S. real estate investment trust Colony NorthStar Inc., the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The group jointly aims to buy a majority stake in the AccorInvest business, though it wasn’t immediately clear how much PIF’s partners would each hold, they said. Accor shares jumped to the highest in almost two and a half years.

While discussions are in advanced stages, there’s no guarantee that an agreement will be reached, the people said. Representatives for PIF, GIC, Amundi and Colony NorthStar declined to comment.

“Discussions are ongoing with tier-one French and international investors,” Accor said in a statement while reporting 2017 earnings. “They are now in their final stages.” A spokesman for the company declined to comment further.

Shares of Accor rose 3.5 percent to 47.06 euros in Paris trading after earlier climbing as much as 4.4 percent to its highest since July 2015.

U.K. property magazine Estates Gazette reported last year that Accor was in talks to sell the unit to the consortium. The hotel chain will remain the largest shareholder in a deal, which is likely to be announced by the end of February, the Financial Times reported this month.

Accor, Europe’s biggest hotel operator, is selling some assets in developed markets as it seeks to expand in emerging economies and acquire new brands.

PIF seeks to become the world’s largest sovereign fund as the Saudi kingdom diversifies its economy away from oil under a plan known as Vision 2030. The sale of about 5 percent in Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is expected to provide more funds for PIF’s investments. Last year, the investment vehicle hired the head of Qatar Investment Authority’s real estate arm, Greg Bankhurst, as chief development officer, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time.

Source: Bloomberg

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