Minor Hotels sells three Maldives resorts, retains management

Thailand’s Minor Hotels has sold three hotels in Maldives.

As part of its asset rotation strategy, parent company Minor International sold the leasehold rights of three Anantara-branded resort islands, along with the island, which houses the staff facilities of the three resorts: Dhigufinolhu island, home to Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort; Veliganduhura island, home to Anantara Veli Maldives Resort; Kudahura island, home to Naladhu Private Island Maldives; and the staff island of Boduhura.

The islands are situated within the same lagoon, in close proximity to capital Male and the main Velana International Airport.

The transaction, worth 1.35 billion Thai Baht (USD 43 million), was completed in the last quarter of 2019.

However, Minor Hotels will continue to manage the three resorts under its Anantara brand.

“The cash proceeds were used to repay existing debt, and the gain on sale of such assets further solidified its equity base. As a result, MINT’s [Minor International’s] leverage position continued to improve, with its debt-to-equity ratio falling to 1.3x as at end of 2019,” Minor International’s Q4 2019 performance analysis report read.

The transaction improved MINT’s balance sheet, while MINT continues to manage the properties, which remain under its brands and continue to generate ongoing management fees.”

Minor Hotels did not disclose the buyer, but local media reports from the Maldives identified the buyer as US venture capital firm Blackstone.

This is the third major investment in the Maldives by Blackstone, the largest alternative investment firm in the world.

Blackstone had earlier this year acquired the leasehold rights of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort from local owner Crown Company for an undisclosed sum. The resort continues to be run managed by Hilton Worldwide, under its flagship Conrad Hotels and Resorts brand.

In February 2013, Blackstone acquired controlling stakes in Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) and its sole competitor Maldivian Air Taxi (MAT). The two seaplane operators were merged under the TMA brand, creating the largest seaplane operator in the world.

A consortium led by US-based Bain Capital and Chinese conglomerate Tempus Group had in 2017 bought TMA from Blackstone for USD 550 million.

In addition to the three resorts sold, Minor Hotels owns and operates Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas in Baa atoll and Niyama Private Islands Maldives in Dhaalu atoll.

This latest sale comes amidst increased activity in the Maldives hospitality industry.

Traditionally dominated by Asian investors, the Maldives is now attracting new sources of cross-border capital from Europe and the US. In the first six months of 2019, investments from new sources of capital represented USD 300 million, compared to the annual average deal volume of USD 120 million per year.

In April, German-based Seaside Hotels & Resorts acquired Finolhu Maldives, a resort in Baa atoll, for approximately USD 90 million.

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