AccorHotels makes $1.2b bid for Mantra Group

Accor's newest asset in Australia is the $500 million Sofitel Darling Harbour which opened last week

Europe's biggest hotel operator Accor SA has made a A$1.18 billion ($920 million) bid for Mantra Group Ltd, in a deal that would combine the two biggest hotel owners in Australia and seek to capitalise on surging tourism in the country.

The move could also help the company fend off increased competition from Airbnb.

This is a 23 per cent premium to Mantra's closing price of $3.23 on Friday.

"There is no certainty that an agreement will be reached or that the proposal will be implemented."

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Accor owns 4,200 hotels around the world, while Mantra runs 125 hotels in Australia, Hawaii and Indonesia. Before Mantra's announcement of the offer, the stock had climbed about 80% since it was listed in mid-2014 by CVC Asia Pacific and UBS Group AG (UBS), although it peaked above A$5 at the end of 2015.

In addition to the AccorHotels and Mantra boards, the deal would require approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board as well as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Accor already has 205 properties with 27,401 rooms in Australia, including Novotel, Ibis and Mercure hotels. In 2016, Accor bought FRHI, the operator of the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel chains, to expand its presence in Asia and the US. Mantra's properties include luxury retreats and coastal resorts as well as serviced CBD apartments. In a research report in August, Deutsche Bank forecast a significant earnings lift for Mantra next year with the Commonwealth Games on the eastern Gold Coast, where the company has about one-third of its total resorts rooms and other properties.

According to commentators, a deal would be the second-largest in the hotel sector of Australia.

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