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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

YTL plans to house hotels under REIT

YTL Corp Bhd has plans to house its various hotel brands into a real estate investment trust (REIT) and list it on the stock market in the near future, said its managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh.

The REIT will be modelled similiar to that of LVMH Mo√ęt Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A. (LVMH), a French holding company, recognised as one of the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate.

LVMH has a group of 50 luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Marc Jacobs under its stable.

“It’s just the same as LVMH, within the REIT we will be able to own many brands in the hospitality business. Right now we have many brands such as JW Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Muse in Saint Tropez, France, hotels in Bali, Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai located at the Bund in China and Niseko Village in Hokkaido, Japan and several resorts in Malaysia such as the Pangkor Laut Resort,” he said in an interview with Business Times recently.

He said the Muse hotel in Saint Tropez, France, which is set to be launched in June is an old resort which has been refurbished into an “exciting hotel” will be a six-star resort with an investment of RM140 million.

Yeoh added that the idea of putting the hotels under a REIT was to expand globally, as the group is looking at expanding the brands of hotel through good property buys in the Asia-Pacific region.

“A lot of people ask why I do high-end and it’s because of economic returns, we feel our expertise is much better.... we have access to greatest architects and designers and it’s better to do a masterpiece for the people who want to buy our products,” he added.

“In Asia you get a lot of nice beach areas whereby they are filled with high-rise buildings but I want to do pockets of developments like in Europe... like in Saint Tropez, as there are regulations there that do not allow overbuilding and that is why it’s so beautiful and not overwhelming,” he said.

On the Sentul West housing project, which is the first private gated park in Malaysia, Yeoh said the project has been delayed as the price disparity is too wide compared to Shanghai and Tokyo.

“It hurts me as Malaysia is well developed but still cannot command (the property pricing) of a global city price. Even our hotel rates need to be increased. RM350 for a five-star room is too little ... in New York we give that much for tips,” he said.

Yeoh said the reason why Malaysia has yet to arrive to a global financial city was because the country did not have the right type of international showcase to attract the right type of high spending tourists.

“I am disappointed that we are very slow and we have to move faster so that we can compete with Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, and Jakarta, Indonesia,” he said.

By Business Times

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