As per a report published in The Times Of India, in one of the biggest deals in the country’s hospitality sector, lodging investor Samhi Hotels is set to buy the India portfolio of British chain Premier Inn for about Rs 600 crore. The proposed buyout of five Premier Inn budget properties, totalling 583 rooms, will make Samhi Hotels the largest independent owner of lodging assets in India. Founded by former Accor India executive Ashish Jakhanwala and HVS head Manav Thadani, the seven-year-old Gurgaon-based company currently has a collection of 25 properties, totalling 3,900 rooms in the country.
Premier Inn’s UK parent Whitbread is pulling out from the Indian hospitality market as it wants to focus on more profitable regions like the UK, Germany and Middle East. Whitbread which also owns Costa Coffee, however, remains focused in growing the café business here. Premier Inn will be Samhi Hotels’ latest transaction after its purchase of Hyatt Regency in Pune last year. To ensure a smooth transition of the five properties from Whitbread to Samhi, the former’s Premier Inn brand will continue in the Indian market for some time, sources said. Premier Inn ventured into the country in 2007 through an equity partnership with real estate developer Emaar MGF. Three years later, the British company bought out its partner from the joint venture and started to develop hotels on its own here. Premier Inn has been one of the few foreign chains to invest in building its own portfolio as against other players like Hilton that operate on a franchise model. Ashish Jakhanwala of Samhi couldn’t be reached for immediate comments. Jakhanwala had earlier said that the company, which is backed by marquee investors like Equity International, IFC, GTI Capital and Goldman Sachs, was looking to buy hotels that are displaced due to financial or operating reasons to enhance its footprint in Asia’s third largest economy.
Mergers and acquisitions in the Indian hospitality sector are increasing due to improved operating trends in average room rates and occupancy levels. Average room rates, ranging between Rs 4,200 and Rs 7,900 are at an all-time high with occupancy levels hovering between 54-75%, according to a Jones Lang LaSalle report. Early this year, Louvre Hotels gained the entire portfolio of management company Sarovar Hotels for about Rs 320 crore.