French hotel group Accor has set up a $30 million joint venture with Tunisian investors to expand its leisure and traveller business in the north African country, officials said on Tuesday.
Accor, which already manages eight hotels in Tunisia, has 35 percent in the new venture named Tunisian Investment Company while its four local partners hold a 65 percent stake.
Officials from the partners said the four are: Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie, which has a 25 percent share; state-owned Societe Tunisienne de Banque, with 20 percent; and state-controlled Banque Nationale Agricole and a private investor hold 10 percent stake each.
The joint venture plans to build or manage an as yet unspecified number of hotels with a capacity of 16,000 beds in the near future.
"We may bring some local hotel companies with us, so we do not need to build all the planned bed-capacity. There is room to increase the joint venture capital to $100 million in the future," said one of the partners.
He said the joint venture was created last week following a visit by Accor senior managers who came to look for new opportunities to expand the leisure group business in the country.
Accor had acquired a 51 percent stake in Tunisia Hotels Resort (THR) in 1999. Local hotels group Mongi Loukil, owner of Palm Beach Hotels, has a 31 percent in the hotel Management THR firm. Local banks and a private investor hold together the remaining 18 percent stake.
Accor has a contract with Palm Beach Hotels to manage eight hotels in Tunisia's main tourist areas.
Local officials said Accor plans to build two airport hotels in Tunis and Enfida town, 75 km (46 miles) southeast of the capital where the government plans to build an airport at end of 2004.
The French group also aims to build two more hotels in Tunis and Djerba, Tunisia's main touristic resort, and a conference complex in the capital, according to local officials who met visiting Accor managers.
Accor will set up a chain of three star hotels, economically priced to meet booming mid-scale demand in Tunisia, according to local officials.
"Accor sees a great potential for economically priced hotels here as a result of the growing middle class here," one of the officials said – (Reuters)
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