[photopress:hotels_new_century_Guilin.jpg,full,alignright]U.S. buyout firm Carlyle is in talks with New Century Tourism Group to invest in the largest Chinese privately run hospitality firm.
New Century runs hotels in the southeastern province of Zhejiang, the cities of Beijing and Shanghai, the eastern province of Jiangsu and Henan province in central China. All of its hotels carry the ‘kaiyuan’ brand name and are rated above four stars.
An executive speaking for the company said by telephone from company headquarters in the southeastern city of Hangzhou, said, ‘We have been holding exclusive talks with Carlyle for several months, but no final agreement has been signed yet. There are no foreign shareholders in our company yet.’
The word to stress is probably ‘yet.’
He said he could not provide more information on the talks because the company had signed a confidentiality agreement with Carlyle.
He declined to confirm or deny a newspaper report that said the Chinese company had received RMB340 million (US$45.78 million) in a first-phase investment from Carlyle.
The China Business News quoted New Century chairman Chen Miaolin as saying the Chinese company expected to receive the remainder of the $100 million that Carlyle had promised to invest in New Century early next year.
Chen Miaolin told Reuters in an interview in December that New Century was in talks with private equity firms to bring in an investment of more than US$200 million ahead of a Hong Kong IPO.
The newspaper quoted Chen as saying with total assets of more than RMB6 billion, the plan was to list in Hong Kong in 2008 or 2009. The company which currently has more than 20 hotels wants to boost the number of its hotels to about 35 by 2010.