Frasers Hospitality sees value in Europe

Frasers Hospitality has launched its first property in Frankfurt, the 153-unit Capri by Fraser. A similar property will be completed in Berlin by the first quarter of next year.
Frasers Hospitality has launched its first property in Frankfurt, the 153-unit Capri by Fraser. A similar property will be completed in Berlin by the first quarter of next year.PHOTO: FRASERS HOSPITALITY

It finds opportunities to snap up assets for a bargain in crisis-hit euro zone, says CEO

The euro zone debt crisis is one of the key drivers behind Frasers Hospitality's aggressive growth plans in Europe, said chief executive Choe Peng Sum.

Mr Choe told The Straits Times on Thursday that the property firm senses opportunities where others see too much risk.

"A lot of people are shying away from making heavy investments in (the euro zone areas). But we see land and building appreciation," he said, adding that low land prices mean opportunities to snap up valuable assets for a bargain.

Frasers Hospitality, part of mainboard-listed Frasers Centrepoint, manages 129 properties in 77 cities.

Mr Choe noted that the group had bought the land parcel for its new 97-unit Capri by Fraser in Barcelona at a 20 per cent discount to the price it was four years ago.

"The yield for individual European projects is very good and sustainable - at about 7 to 8 per cent. This is hard to find in Asia right now," he added.

"If indeed the quantitative easing measures and the lowering of interest rates work, Europe could follow how the United States economy is growing. There is some opportunity there."

Plans to expand the business in Europe are well under way.

The group on Thursday launched its first property in Frankfurt - the 153-unit Capri by Fraser - which joins six other properties under the company's Capri brand of hotel residences.

A similar property will be completed in Berlin by 2017.

The new projects mark the firm's first forays into Germany and Spain.

In June, it completed a £363.4 million (S$790.4 million) acquisition of British boutique lifestyle hotels Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, a move that doubled its offerings in Europe.

"I'm definitely bullish about Europe," said Mr Choe, adding that the overall contribution from its properties in the region could climb to as high as 25 per cent in the next three years, up from the 10 per cent two years ago.

"But it's not Santa Claus all the way," he added. "A lot of funds from Europe and the United States are coming back to the region. The window is closing."

The group is "searching high and low" for opportunities to enter other key cities in Europe, such as Milan and Amsterdam.

At the same time, a further 10 Capri by Fraser properties will open in Asia-Pacific over the next four years, said Mr Choe.

This will bump up the group's total number of Capri by Fraser hotel residences to 17, with more than 3,500 units, including those in the pipeline.

The Capri by Fraser brand, targeted at e-generation travellers, offers a hybrid of hotel facilities together with the convenience of a full serviced residence.

"The Capri by Fraser brand has grown very fast for us and it will be a key contributor to our global expansion goal of 30,000 residence units by 2019," said Mr Choe, adding that he aims to bring the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin brands to suitable parts of Asia.

He expects the group's portfolio to be evenly spread across serviced residences, hotels and hotel residences by then as well.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2015, with the headline 'Frasers Hospitality sees value in Europe'. Print Edition | Subscribe