A report by JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group has revealed that the Asia-Pacific region is expected to be home to a significant US$ 8.5 billion in hotel investment during 2016.
Scott Hetherington, Chief Executive Officer of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, Asia, said: “In 2015, the headlines featured blockbuster acquisitions of high-profile, gateway market hotels by investors from mainland China, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
“We also saw a high volume of hotel deals in Japan, with increasing interest from foreign investors. This year we expect transaction activity across the region will slow somewhat, with a likely to shift to secondary markets in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.”
During 2015 more than 33,000 hotel rooms changed hands in Asia-Pacific, according to the real estate firm. Leading the pack in terms of investment activity was Japan, followed by Australia and Hong Kong.
The blockbuster transactions that characterised as the year included the sale of the InterContinental Hong Kong (pictured) for US$ 938 million and the Westin Sydney for AUD 445 million, as well as an increasing weight of money coming from investment and private equity funds.
Cross border investment accounted for half of all capital flows in the region on deals above US$5 million, with Chinese investors increasing their stakes in Australia and Japan.
Looking ahead, JLL’s Hotel Investment Outlook report identifies seven trends to look out for in Asia-Pacific during 2016:
Continued consolidation among hotel brands
Last year saw Marriott purchase Starwood and Accor acquire the Fairmont hotels group. Both these deals will impact the operating landscape in Asia-Pacific and globally, with more consolidation expected in the coming year.
Mark Wynne Smith, Global CEO for JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group, said: “Public markets are rewarding growth, creating a strong case for hotel brand consolidation. Hotel brands are on a never-ending quest to bolster their pipeline and with the natural attrition in properties and limits to new supply growth, the surest way is often by acquiring operators with strategic management or franchise contracts.”
Spotlight on Japan
Japan saw the highest deal volumes in the region during 2015, a trend that is expected to continue in 2016. This will comprise a substantial number of domestic REITs in addition to interest from U.S. Private Equity funds and Southeast Asian families. There is likely to be increased demand from Chinese investors looking to purchase hotels in second tier Japanese markets through 2016.
Investment into Chinese hotels
Mainland China has started to see circa. US$ 1 billion in hotel trades annually, and this level is expected to continue, if not increase, during 2016. While Chinese investors acquiring hotels continue to make headlines, quality assets listed within the Mainland are sure to attract interest.
Australia will remain competitive
Craig Collins, CEO, JLL Hotels & Hospitality, Australasia, noted: “2015 saw further growth in offshore interest in Australian hotel assets and we expect this to continue during 2016. Following several trophy asset transactions occurring in the past two years, interest remains strong for prime offerings across Australia’s core markets.
“With a widely expected scarcity of available stock moving forward, competition will be incredibly strong during 2016 for opportunities to enter the coveted Sydney and Melbourne markets in particular.”
Hong Kong and Singapore will be less active than 2015
Investors will continue to look at these established financial centres. However, lack of available assets in Hong Kong – which saw its highest number of transactions ever in 2015 – will make it competitive. Similarly the tightly-held hotel stock in Singapore will mean any opportunities will be highly sought-after.
Increasing interest in secondary markets
There will be pockets of liquidity across Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean with interesting investment opportunities coming up in markets such as Thailand, the Maldives and Mauritius.
REITs will be on the rise
In Asia there remains the opportunity for the formation of more hotel real estate investment trusts (REITs) if tax structures change to offer similar benefits to those seen in the U.S.