Occidental Hotels & Resorts, the hotelier owned by billionaire Amancio Ortega and Spain’s second-largest bank, has attracted interest from companies including AMResorts and Playa Hotels & Resorts, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
The two U.S.-based hotel and leisure operators were among several first-round bidders, said the people, who asked not to be named because the process is private. Occidental, whose main shareholders are Ortega, owner of the Zara clothing-chain operator Inditex SA (ITX), and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA), may fetch as much as $700 million, they said.
Closely held Occidental manages more than 6,700 rooms in 19 hotels across 8 countries in the Caribbean, Central America and Europe, according to its website. The company has more than 4,300 employees and 600,000 guests annually. Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization reached $54 million in 2012 compared with $29 million in 2010, according to a statement on its website.
Investors are buying Latin American hotels as economic and infrastructure improvements boost demand from travelers. Investments in the Americas, which includes the U.S., jumped 30 percent in 2013 to $24 billion, according to Chicago-based broker Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (JLL:US) Global hotel investments in 2013 rose 35 percent to $46.5 billion and are projected to rise as much as 10 percent in 2014, Jones Lang said in January.
“Latin America will register disproportionate demand growth throughout the next decade, fueled by significant infrastructure investment, economic growth and transfer of technology and know-how,” Jones Lang said last year.
Representatives for Occidental, Playa Hotels and AMResorts, which is backed by buyout firm Bain Capital LLC, couldn’t immediately comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.
BBVA and Ortega, the world’s third-richest man according to data compiled by Bloomberg, bought about 77 percent of Occidental in 2007 for 434 million euros ($595 million), according to a statement at the time. In May 2013, Occidental said it reached an agreement with national and international banks to refinance its long-term debt.
As part of the plan, Occidental said it would focus development activity in seven countries in the Caribbean and Central America, where it manages 17 hotels.
Ortega has invested in a variety of properties as he seeks to diversify his wealth. The Spanish billionaire bought an office building in London’s West End for 410 million pounds ($686 million), a person with knowledge of the matter said in December.
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