Singapore's Ascott takes controlling stake in serviced apartment group Quest with $180 million deal

Singapore's Ascott takes controlling stake in serviced apartment group Quest with $180 million deal
Singapore's Ascott takes controlling stake in serviced apartment group Quest with $180 million deal

Real estate giant CapitaLand subsidiary, The Ascott Limited (Ascott) is buying an additional 60% stake in serviced apartment operator Quest Apartment Hotels for $180 million.

Ascott’s stake in Quest will now rise from 20% to 80%, making it the largest serviced residence provider in Australasia, the company said in a media release. It has the option to acquire the remaining 20% stake in Quest later.

The deal gives Ascott access to Quest’s 180 properties across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and boosts its portfolio by over 11,000 units to more than 67,000 units across 507 properties and 124 cities globally, it said. 

Ascott’s chief executive Lee Chee Koon said the stake buy will “leapfrog Ascott to become the leading serviced residence provider in Australasia”. 

The trend of consolidation in the hotel sector is also due to rising competition from peer-to-peer accomodation platforms such as Airbnb which has changed the rules of the hospitality sector.

Koon said scale was important as it allows Ascott to “offer more options to customers, strengthen our sales and distribution, and help speed up Ascott’s growth”. 

“Besides entrenching Ascott’s presence in the developed and stable market of Australia, we will be able to capitalise on the established Quest brand and its highly scalable business format franchise systems and know-how, and further apply the franchise platform as a driver of growth for Ascott,” he added. 

Since Ascott first bought a 20% stake in Quest in 2014, Quest’s network revenue has grown 6% annually.

Quest Apartment Hotels chairman and founder Paul Constantinou said the deal would expand Quest’s reach, offering guests access to accomodation across 29 countries in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. 

“Quest will now further leverage the strength of Ascott’s globally recognised, award-winning brands and fast track its international expansion, whilst maintaining its successful franchise format business, along with the value and integrity of the Quest brand,” Constantinou said.

Quest properties are managed by franchisees.  

Earlier this year, the historic Grand Hotel Melbourne was officially rebranded as a Quest property, as the group targets more business travellers. 

Ascott has also acquired its first serviced residence in Brisbane as part of its partnership with Quest. 

The 100-unit freehold serviced residence to be developed on a turnkey basis was acquired from an unrelated local property developer for $24 million. It will be named Quest CANNON HILL and operated as a Quest franchise when the property opens in 2018. 

Quest CANNON HILL is the second acquisition under Ascott’s strategic partnership with Quest. In mid-2016, Ascott acquired the 221-unit Quest NewQuay Docklands in Melbourne for A$71 million (S$71 million). Quest NewQuay Docklands will be Quest’s largest property in its network when it opens in 2019. 

With the addition of Quest CANNON HILL, Ascott currently owns and manages 10 serviced residences with over 1,300 apartment units in Brisbane, Greater Sydney, Hobart, Melbourne and Perth under the Citadines, Somerset and Quest brands. 

The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore-listed CapitaLand, which has a global portfolio worth more than S$78 billion.

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