The head of AccorHotels said on Friday that having Chinese hotel giant Jin Jiang as its top shareholder would help the French hotelier accelerate its expansion.
Sebastien Bazin told the annual shareholders meeting it would be "a good thing" if Jin Jiang, which has built a stake of nearly 15 percent in Europe's largest hotel group, eventually won seats on the board though the matter had not been discussed.
Jin Jiang, which already owns France's Louvre Hotels Group, is among a growing number of Chinese firms investing in Europe's tourism industry, including Fosun which took control of French holiday group Club Med last year.
The group has increased its focus on luxury brands and invested in online travel sites since Bazin took over three years ago.
As of March 31 the Chinese group held 14.98 percent of the capital and 13.07 percent of the voting rights of AccorHotels.
In a February filing with stock market regulator AMF, Jin Jiang had said it did not rule out buying more AccorHotels shares or seeking board seats but was not seeking control of the company. So far Jin Jiang has made no request for board seats.
Analysts say Jin Jiang may be beefing up its stake to avoid being diluted when Middle Eastern investors obtain stakes in the company as part of AccorHotels' takeover of FRHI Holdings Ltd.
AccorHotels announced a cash-and-share deal worth $2.9 billion in December to buy FRHI Holdings, the owner of luxury hotels including London's Savoy and New York's Plaza.
As part of the deal, AccorHotels will issue new shares. Once it does, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) will get a stake of 10.5 percent and Kingdom Holding, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's investment company, a 5.8 percent stake.
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