LSHI in talks with US trust to sell luxury hotel

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 February, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 February, 1998, 12:00am

Lai Sun Hotels International (LSHI) says a United States-listed property trust indicated it would offer US$370 million to buy its jointly owned Four Seasons Hotel in New York.


Chief executive Brian Deeson said the value was more than double the price paid by a consortium led by LSHI in August 1996.


LSHI owns 49.99 per cent of the consortium which includes Hong Kong Parkview Group, Manhattan Garments Group, Amecor Group and Sunnet Investment Group.


The purchase price was not disclosed at the time but was estimated at more than US$500,000 per room.


Mr Deeson said negotiations with the property trust were in a preliminary stage as many terms and conditions had not been discussed.


He said the property trust is one of five potential buyers of the 370-room deluxe hotel which includes a listed property trust and a private investment fund.


The possible sale of the Four Seasons Hotel is part of parent Lai Sun Development's plan to cut its gear- ing to less than 50 per cent.


The Regent Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles - in which LSHI owns 25 per cent - is another hotel on the possible sale list.


Mr Deeson said the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel was under renovation.


He said some parties had expressed interest in the hotel but did not expect to see keen buyers untill renovations were completed.


America's bullish hotel industry - boosted by an improving economy - had seen many North American property trusts express interest in acquiring hotel assets, Mr Deeson said.


However, he said LSHI would not expand its hotel management business in North America as prices for securing hotel contracts were too expensive.


Mr Deeson said the group would focus its management businesses on central Asia, the Middle East and Australia.


He said LSHI was finalising negotiations to obtain two management contracts.


One is a 230-room, four-star hotel in Sydney, which is under construction.


The other is a 185-room resort hotel in New Zealand.


Both will be managed by the group's Century International Hotels, which handles 19 hotels and resorts in various Asia-Pacific countries including Hong Kong, the mainland, Thailand and Vietnam.