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Thursday, November 19, 2009

TA sees jump in hotel earnings

KUALA LUMPUR: TA Enterprise Bhd expects earnings from its hotel operations to triple next year following the completion this month of the acquisition of its fourth hotel, the Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore.

Datin Alicia Tiah ... ‘The injection will see better synergistic management.’

“There will be four hotels contributing to the segment from Nov 30 onwards and we are positive,” managing director and chief executive officer Datin Alicia Tiah said after the company EGM yesterday.

Sales from hotel operations totalled RM76.6mil, or about 14% of the group’s sales, for the financial year ended Jan 31, 2009, the company’s 2009 annual report showed.

The group, via its property division TA Global Bhd, already owns three other hotels - the Westin Melbourne, Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney and the Aava Whistler Hotel in Canada.

Tiah said the RM635.8mil Swissotel proposed purchase, which received shareholders’ approval yesterday, would be conducted under TA Enterprise and not TA Global as the “opportunity to purchase Swissotel came in after the submission of TA Enterprise’s application to the Securities Commission for the listing of TA Global.”

TA Enterprise, which saw its share price rise more than 50% this year before softening, has consolidated all of its property assets under TA Global and the company will be listed on Bursa Malaysia on Monday.

Swissotel would be injected into TA Global post-listing, Tiah said, for “better synergistic management.”

The four-star hotel had an average occupancy rate of 78.5% last year, she said, adding that the proposed purchase came with a S$19mil earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) guarantee for the years 2010 to 2013.

The ebitda guarantee is secured against a cash deposit of S$10mil held by the escrow agent, i.e. a party that has fiduciary responsibilities in the transfer of property from one party to another.

Future plans for Swissotel include an estimated capital expenditure of about S$5mil budgeted for the next five years for refurbishment and upgrade activities, Tiah said.

The budgeted capex has been taken into consideration in the pricing of the hotel.

Asked on the prospects of more acquisitions, Tiah said: “We are looking; we are always looking. There are so many distressed assets all over. The thing we look for is the right price.”

By The Star (by Yvonne Tan)

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