Hotel group Accor looks at buying stake in Air France-KLM

Analysts warn move would be risky for hotel owner as airline is exposed to rising fuel prices

 Europe’s biggest hotel operator Accor is considering acquiring a minority stake in troubled Air France-KLM. Photograph:  Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Europe’s biggest hotel operator Accor is considering acquiring a minority stake in troubled Air France-KLM. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

 

Europe’s biggest hotel operator is considering acquiring a minority stake in Air France-KLM, becoming the anchor investor in the French airline as it struggles to contain a bitter and costly labour dispute.

Accor is looking to compete better with the broader travel packages offered by online rivals such as Expedia and Booking.com.

The prospect of Accor, the operator of the Raffles, Sofitel, Mercure and Ibis brands, swooping in to buy the French government’s 14.3 per cent stake sent shares in Air France-KLM surging as much as 7.4 per cent on Monday. Accor stock slumped, with analysts at Sanford C Bernstein saying the deal may be risky for the hotel owner.

No evident strategy

“Air France-KLM currently has no CEO, no evident strategy to solve its labour crisis, and is highly exposed to rising fuel prices,” analysts including Richard Clarke said in a note.

“While the strategic rationale for Accor is there, we wonder why this cannot be achieved by a commercial partnership.”

– Bloomberg/Reuters