Rezidor SAS and Carlson Hotels Worldwide enhance their partnership with shareholder agreement

14 Mar 2005

Rezidor SAS Hospitality, the Brussels-based wholly-owned subsidiary of the SAS Group, today jointly announced with US-based Carlson Hotels Worldwide, that they have signed an agreement which results in an enhancement of their long-time franchise partnership into a shareholder agreement.

The basis of the agreement will see Carlson Hotels acquire a 25 percent shareholding in Rezidor SAS from SAS Group in return for renegotiated commercial terms of the parties’ current Master Franchise Agreement (MFA). The MFA is the agreement between Rezidor SAS and Carlson by which Rezidor manages Carlson Hotel brands in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). These brands have included Radisson SAS, Park Inn, Regent International Hotels and Country Inns & Suites.

Rezidor SAS first signed an agreement with Carlson in 1994 for the first class Radisson brand. The combined brand, Radisson SAS, that was created from that MFA has been the vehicle that has turned Rezidor SAS into one of the fastest growing hotel management companies in the world today.

The success of this initial Radisson SAS partnership then led to Rezidor SAS and Carlson signing a further multi-brand MFA agreement in 2002 that added three other Carlson brands to the Rezidor SAS portfolio – Regent, Park Inn and Country Inns & Suites. This has proved to be another sparkling success story that has seen the high volume mid-market brand Park Inn, grow from zero to over 60 properties in just two years in the EMEA region; while also facilitating the re-launch of the luxury brand Regent, with Rezidor SAS adding two new landmark hotels, in Berlin and Zagreb, to the global Regent portfolio.

As a result Rezidor SAS has grown from 29 Radisson SAS hotels, when the original agreement was signed in 1994, to now having in total 245 hotels open or under development.

This new deal, which is pending regulatory approval and is expected to take place in the first half of 2005, has an option for Rezidor SAS to use the Carlson brands to 2052, an increase of twenty years on the previous agreement. It will now bring the two companies even closer together and allow for stronger brand alignment on a global basis.

“Carlson Hotels Worldwide is a strategic partner within the global hospitality sector for Rezidor SAS. The SAS Group will maintain the majority holding and control over Rezidor SAS, while also strengthening the strategic business platform. It will bring additional scale and profitability to Rezidor SAS and further enhance its development opportunities,” said Mr. Gunnar Reitan, Executive Vice President and Deputy CEO of the SAS Group and Chairman of Rezidor SAS.”

Mr. Curtis Nelson, President of Carlson Companies, parent company of Carlson Hotels Worldwide, said: “We are pleased to announce this important investment as a demonstration of our strategic commitment to the hotel business as a key part of Carlson’s future growth plans and our respect for our partners at SAS.”

Mr. Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of Rezidor SAS further commented that: “We’ve proven that this is a partnership that works. When we initially signed a deal with Carlson back in 1994, we were a small hotel group with only 29 properties. Now we operate the key global Carlson Hotel brands throughout Europe the Middle East and Africa, with a portfolio of 245 hotels in 47 countries, and we’re on track to reach our target of 700 properties by 2012. This deal will help to support this growth and I see it as a fantastic opportunity for everybody at Rezidor SAS and all the stakeholders involved in this new venture.”

Mr. Jay S. Witzel, President & CEO of Carlson Hotels Worldwide added: “This deal is an exciting next step in our successful partnership with Rezidor SAS which will more closely align our two companies for the benefit of our brands, customers and employees.” Globally, Carlson Hotels Worldwide includes nearly 900 locations in 69 countries under five brands.

The deal will give Carlson two seats on the six-member board of Rezidor SAS.

For more information:

Knut Kleiven, Executive Vice President & CFO Rezidor SAS Hospitality, +32 2 702 92 44
Joan Cronson, press contact, Carlson Hotels Worldwide, +1 763-212-1418
Birgit Borreck, Director Corporate Communications, Rezidor SAS, +32 473 304 085