During the Annual General Meeting of International Hotel Investments p.l.c. (IHI), which was held on 13 June 2019, the shareholders approved a particularly engaging Annual Report. This interesting document greatly helps to know the structure of the company and its successes throughout the year, its philosophy, aims, acquisitions and aspirations.
To facilitate the reading of this 62,000-word document, Insider Plus considered it worthwhile to provide its readers with highlights of this Report, which will certainly prove to be of special interest.
PRINCIPAL MILESTONES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
- Net profit before tax has increased by 28% to €8.472m in 2018.
- Adjusted EBITDA has grown to €61.333m in 2018, almost double the €33m in 2014.
- We have acquired a 10% shareholding in the Global Hotel Alliance, the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands and operator of the loyalty program Discovery.
- We have continued to grow our global footprint, with the acquisition of a shareholding in a hotel and residential development in Moscow.
- Five luxury Corinthia Hotel projects are underway in various stages of design and completion. These are located in Dubai, Bucharest, Brussels, Moscow and Malta.
IHI is a luxury hospitality and real estate group focused on the market-leading Corinthia brand. From concept to acquisition, design and development through to successful operation, the IHI Group is uniquely positioned in the industry. The Group is determined to build on the success of its iconic Corinthia hotel brand, pursue related real estate opportunities, and explore opportunities with like-minded third parties in key locations around the world.
The Group comprises a number of key subsidiary entities:
Corinthia Hotels Limited is a hotel, resort and catering management company which manages hotels under the Corinthia brand, worldwide.
Corinthia Developments International Limited (CDI) is a development company which originates, plans, structures, transacts and manages the Group’s ongoing developments.
QP Limited is a project management company which supports the Group and third parties with architectural, engineering, management and technical construction services.
HOTELS OWNED & MANAGED
BRUSSELS CORINTHIA HOTEL
(OPENING 2021 FORMER GRAND HOTEL ASTORIA)
125 ROOMS / 50% HOLDING
BUDAPEST CORINTHIA HOTEL
(FORMER GRAND HOTEL ROYAL)
439 ROOMS / 100% HOLDING
LISBON CORINTHIA HOTEL
518 ROOMS / 100% HOLDING
LONDON CORINTHIA HOTEL & RESIDENCES
283 ROOMS / 50% HOLDING
CORINTHIA PALACE HOTEL ATTARD
150 ROOMS / 100% HOLDING
CORINTHIA HOTEL ST GEORGE’S BAY
250 ROOMS / 100% HOLDING
RADISSON BLU RESORT & SPA GOLDEN SANDS
329 ROOMS / 50% HOLDING
MARINA HOTEL ST GEORGE’S BAY
200 ROOMS / 100% HOLDING
RADISSON BLU RESORT ST JULIAN’S
252 ROOMS / 100% HOLDING
MOSCOW CORINTHIA HOTEL & RESIDENCES
53 ROOMS / 10% HOLDING
PRAGUE CORINTHIA HOTEL
551 ROOMS / 100% HOLDING
ST PETERSBURG CORINTHIA HOTEL
385 ROOMS / 100% HOLDING
TRIPOLI CORINTHIA HOTEL
300 ROOMS / 100% HOLDING
BUCHAREST CORINTHIA HOTEL
(OPENING 2020 FORMER
GRAND HOTEL DU BOULEVARD)
BUDAPEST ACQUINCUM HOTEL
DOHA CORINTHIA HOTEL & RESIDENCES
DUBAI CORINTHIA MEYDAN BEACH HOTEL
THE MEYDAN HOTEL
BAB AL SHAMS DESERT RESORT
KHARTOUM CORINTHIA HOTEL
PRAGUE PANORAMA HOTEL
TUNIS RAMADA PLAZA
LAND & COMMERCIAL
10, WHITEHALL PLACE RESIDENCES
OASIS AT ĦAL FERĦ
NEVSKIJ PLAZA SHOPPING & OFFICE CENTRE
CORINTHIA COMMERCIAL CENTRE
Mr Alfred Pisani
As the Founder and Chairman of your Company, I think it is pertinent for me to constantly highlight the special strength and wholesomeness of our Company, IHI. We are not only owners of hotels and real estate, but we are also supported through three wholly-owned companies that have knowhow in development under CDI, project management through QP, and ultimately the service of managing hotels under the brand Corinthia, CHL. As I have stated on numerous occasions, we are possibly unique in providing a one-stop-shop for hotel and real estate developments, as I do not know of any other company internationally that provides all these services under one roof. Therefore, not only do we hold valuable properties which are achieving good profitability plus yearly appreciation, but we are also supported in offering a number of services to the hotel industry, a combination of activities that collectively provide added value. However, and more important, I am proud to say that we have an extremely committed work force who reflect a special spirit which we call the Spirit of Corinthia. The commitment of our personnel, the commitment of our colleagues, in all positions, all share a common bond of ownership. To me, this is an added value which is not read on the balance sheet and provides our Company with a certain wholesomeness that, in itself, carries tremendous strength and value.
As to the strategic direction that the Company is pursuing, we are further consolidating our acquisition of new properties, although the board’s policy has been to participate in joint ventures rather than do it alone, so that our excess funds can be distributed to the acquisitions of more than one property. In consequence, the funds available for investment are better utilised by investing in a number of properties with the support of third-party shareholders joining us specifically in these individual developments. This means that rather than being sole owners of a new hotel we will share these acquisitions with third party investors. The ultimate objective is that many more hotels will carry the Corinthia flag. Looking forward, and as a policy, we are still very much determined to fly our flag in Rome, in Paris and in New York. However, the globalisation and the shifting growth that we see in other continents attract our attention to seriously look at new destinations such as China, India and very much so, the emerging countries in Africa. It is the Board’s intention to open offices in these regions to market our expertise and likewise repeat what we have done in Europe in these developing economies.
In this context, we have this year announced our minority investment in a luxury Corinthia Hotel & Residences project in Moscow. IHI acquired a minority share in a company which was formed with a consortium of investors to develop a landmark property on Moscow’s principal avenue, close to the Kremlin and Red Square. The property has a listed façade, and houses a beautiful 19th century Bakery, which we will restore to its former glory but put to good use in the operation of the hotel. Zoning permits are in hand, allowing us to develop up to 50,000m2 whilst retaining the listed frontage, similar to what we had previously done in Budapest, London and St Petersburg. The consortium has plans to create a luxury Corinthia Hotel and branded serviced apartments. All this will be supported with high-end retail shops.
This formula of doing it ourselves from beginning to end, provided us with a substantial capital appreciation on the day we open the hotel doors to the public. This is no less than what all developers do who ultimately realise their gain on completion of their project. To my mind, doing it all ourselves provides us with as much as 20% to 25% capital gain each time we complete and open a new property. In our case, we have, up to now, held on to our hotels in order to fly our flag and achieve our objective of developing the Corinthia brand. This is what we have done in St Petersburg, in Budapest, in London, in Tripoli, in Lisbon and others. Although the valuation provided in the financial statements is based on the enterprise value, which at present translates into a share value of €1.11, we are sure that the market value for each of our properties is well above our balance sheet figures, which would ultimately translate in a higher share value.
It is clear, and in fact everyone readily appreciates that the more properties we develop, the more in-house work is generated to our subsidiary companies. This is a win-win situation and a vision that I, as Founder, have successfully pursued through the 58 years of fathering the Corinthia name. However, in order to recycle our balance sheet, the board is also considering to strategically exit the ownership of specific assets which have reached maturity in their capital gain. These sales will ideally be accompanied by a management agreement that secures our hotel management of these properties. In the process, we shall also consider sale and leaseback options, as this potentially widens the net of investors seeking lower returns, and thus higher valuations, and allows us to retain some of the residual hotel income above the lease payment guarantee. In this way we will free up cash which would allow us to finance new acquisitions and developments and/or provide support in the form of key money or guarantees to secure more management agreements, restructure our debt funding and consider ad hoc distribution of profits.
In 2020, we shall be opening our first hotel in the Middle East where we have entered into a strategic partnership with the Meydan Group. The project is currently at the 35th floor, rising fast towards the full 55 floors which will comprise the 360-room Corinthia Meydan Beach Hotel, located on the prestigious Jumeirah Beach Resort in Dubai, reflecting the enriching brand values for which Corinthia is known. As such, this opening represents an important, landmark moment for Corinthia in both the region and worldwide and will surely open up more opportunities for our brand and management services in the Gulf region. It is important to mention that Corinthia Hotels Limited is already providing management services to Meydan in two of their other hotels in Dubai, namely the Meydan which is known for its state-of-the-art horse racing track, where the Dubai World Cup is held and the Bab al Shams Desert Resort, both of which we operate on behalf of the owners.
In Brussels, Corinthia is redeveloping the Grand Hotel Astoria to its former glory and which property is 50% owned by IHI. This Grande Dame of the city on Rue Royale was built in 1909 at the request of King Leopold II and was the meeting place of royalty and dignitaries. It will comprise 125 bedrooms and suites, extensive banqueting, dining and spa facilities. It is scheduled to open in 2021.
In Bucharest, the Corinthia Bucharest will be the Company’s first boutique hotel. Located in the heart of the city, the hotel is a listed building, having been built in 1867 and last operated as a hotel some ten years ago under the name Grand Hotel du Boulevard. The hotel’s lavish ground floor has already been restored to its former glory, with exquisite dining rooms and a grand ballroom, while elsewhere the hotel will offer beautiful meeting spaces and a luxury spa. It is expected that the hotel will start operating in 2020. In this instance, Corinthia does not hold ownership but is providing the expertise of development and hotel operations.
Other projects we are pursuing include property developments and management opportunities in Cannes, Rome, Vienna, Saudi Arabia, Tunis, Beirut and New York.
As a Maltese company, I believe that Corinthia has an obligation to invest in its homeland. We want to replicate in Malta the high standards that we have achieved in the development of our hotels overseas and particularly, our London Hotel. We are convinced that in consequence of our expertise in building and operating six-star properties in various destinations outside Malta, and where in each case we have been successful, there is no reason why we cannot also be successful to introduce a six-star development in our homeland. Corinthia is best placed to do this since it has been successfully achieving high standards in all our overseas properties during these many years. I, as a Maltese, have strong belief in our island that our future is to become a six-star destination, and this not necessarily only in our San Gorg development. This is Malta’s future and we as Corinthia are taking steps to demonstrate our belief in redeveloping the existing Corinthia Hotel in St George’s Bay into the island’s first luxury grand hotel with 220 bedrooms and suites, multiple dining and leisure amenities in Malta’s prime location.
We are so convinced that this is the future for our island that Corinthia is prepared to lead by example and provide the first six -star hotel and six-star residential apartments. We shall turn the St George’s peninsula into a haven of luxury not yet experienced on our island. This is a development that will be unique in standards and that will put the island on a new level of opulence that will in turn attract a higher spending tourist and investor to Malta. Many have argued against the good intentions of our development, no doubt prompted by misunderstanding, however, we shall nonetheless pursue this belief in the island and we shall move forward to provide Malta with a unique development that will translate into a new understanding in the value of our country.
While we move ahead with well-calculated decisions, we must believe in ourselves that all is possible, and all is within our reach. We have a solid foundation, not only based on strong financial disciplines but also embodied with the sentiment of family values. This for me carries the best of both worlds – governance supported by the sentiment of caring. We must always ensure that no matter how professional and how efficient we become, it is as relevant and important to hold on to and manifest the family sentiments. This is the most important mark which will distinguish us from the competition. This is why we are successful.
Chief Executive Officers’ Report
IHI is a diversified business with one principal mission, that is the global expansion of our Corinthia brand through our activity as investors, developers and operators of luxury hotels and branded real estate.
We set up the Company in April 2000 with one owned hotel in Malta and a development site in Budapest, and have since then grown the business over the years to now count:
- Ownership stakes in 13 hotels in London, Brussels, Prague, Budapest, St Petersburg, Tripoli, Lisbon and, more recently in Moscow too, besides five owned hotels in Malta.
- Ownership of the Corinthia Brand and Corinthia Hotels Limited, a management company that operates 22 hotels, of which 13 are branded Corinthia.
- The recent formation of our wholly owned subsidiary, Corinthia Developments International Limited, a developer that originates and executes branded real estate projects for IHI and other investors.
- QP Limited, another wholly owned subsidiary, a technical, design & project management company, the largest in Malta, but also operating internationally.
- Corinthia Caterers, an event & industrial catering company, that also owns the Costa Coffee franchise in Malta and Spain.
as well as
- Land, commercial & residential real estate property in Malta, Tripoli, London, St Petersburg, Budapest and Moscow.
Over the past five years, we have almost doubled our adjusted EBITDA, from €33m in 2014 to €61m in the year under review. This growth is a result of acquisitions of new businesses, but mostly attributed to improving financial performances in our subsidiaries, especially in our owned hotels and the Corinthia Hotels management company.
In summary, revenues are up to €256m, an improvement of €14m relative to the previous year, partly arising from the acquisition of the Corinthia Palace Hotel as of April 2018, but mostly due to improved revenues from existing businesses.
81.7% of this revenue is driven by the operation of our owned hotels.
During the year under review, the company originated and concluded the acquisition of a prime property on Moscow’s main boulevard. The corner site at 10, Tverskaya sits on 5,300m2 with zoning permits to develop c. 50,000m2 of gross floor areas including basements. The facades on both elevations are protected by the local heritage authorities, but the remaining land will be entirely rebuilt. Our investment in this project comprises a 10% shareholding of a joint venture formed with a consortium of investors. Our obligation is to inject $6m, versus an investment of $54m from the remaining members of the consortium. Over 90% of the funds have since been injected, mostly to finance the property acquisition at $55m, plus surplus funds to finance the joint venture’s early operating costs.
The project is agreed by the joint venture as a 53-bedroom luxury Corinthia hotel, 4,700m2 in retail and public amenity areas for rent, as well as 16,000m2 in high-end branded residential apartments for sale. The income from the sale of the residences is expected to cover the total cost of the project. We expect works to commence on site later in 2019, subject to revised plans being approved by the local authorities.
Construction on the Corinthia Hotel in Dubai is gaining momentum. The project is located on a prime beachfront site at Jumeirah Beach Residence, the Emirate’s foremost stretch of beach, facing the newly erected Dubai Eye at one end, and the Palm on the other. Construction is at the 35th floor, rising fast towards the full 55 floors which will comprise the 360-room hotel. A target opening date of summer 2020 has been set.
Our role in this landmark development is that of operator, with Corinthia Hotels providing technical services support and, once open, managing the hotel. A high-calibre management team has been assembled and is on site, setting out and implementing plans and strategies for the launch of the hotel.
Our role here is as project managers via QP Limited and hotel operators via Corinthia Hotels.
The project includes the refurbishment of the Grand Hotel du Boulevard dating back to 1867, into a Corinthia Hotel featuring two restaurants and bars, a spa, a private members’ lounge, a ballroom, and 34 suites. The design of the public areas and bedrooms has gone through various iterations and is now almost finalized. The strip-out of the existing property is underway and fit-out works will commence later this year. Opening is set for 2020.
We are nearing the end of a lengthy design process and discussions with selected pre-qualified contractors to award a main contract for the redevelopment of the landmark Grand Hotel Astoria into the Corinthia Brussels.
Our development company CDI is driving the development process, with QP acting as project manager and Corinthia Hotels providing technical services and eventually, hotel management. The hotel is owned NLI Holdings, by the same company that owns the London hotel and residences, and in which we have a 50% interest.
The project is a delicate reconstruction of the upper floors of this listed 1909 property, and the restoration and conversion of the highly protected ground floor. Work to firm up our design has been ongoing for several months, following which discussions have been entered into with a number of pre-qualified contractors. We aim to commence works soon in 2019 and complete the entire 16,000m2 development by 2022. Tentative costs per meter have been established, putting our budgets at par with comparable high-end developments in Europe. In pursuing this project, NLI has called on its two shareholders to inject a further €10m each. Our share has since been raised through a bond on the Malta Stock Exchange and set aside for this purpose. The remainder of the €90m project has been financed by way of a €45m project finance loan, signed and agreed with Aresbank of Spain, as well as funds injected directly from NLI’s own cash flow surpluses in London.
Acquisition of a strategic shareholding in the Global Hotel Alliance
In 2018, our operating company Corinthia Hotels Limited entered into an option agreement to acquire a 10% shareholding in the Global Hotel Alliance, alongside the founding shareholders Kempinski, Omni Hotels, the tech giant Oracle, and newly incoming shareholders Pan Pacific and Minor Hotels. CHL has since exercised the option. Our acquisition was completed at USD3.5m, based on an agreed valuation shared by all incoming investors.
By way of background, GHA is the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands and operator of the loyalty programme, DISCOVERY. Some 32 brands worldwide are members, with over 550 hotels participating in the alliance’s loyalty programme. The alliance is also a platform for member brands to retain their identity and separate ownership, but act in unison and negotiate collectively when procuring technology, driving innovation and entering agreements with travel companies.
We have continued to allocate funds towards the ongoing improvement of our owned hotels. As per standard industry practice for capital reserve funds, our hotels allocate between 2.5% and 4% of their total revenue towards capital expenditure. The range of % is a function of company policy as well as covenants entered into with various funding banks on specific hotels.
Over and above CAPEX reserve funds allocated to the ongoing routine upkeep and improvements, we are also midway through four major refurbishment projects spanning three years of dedicated investment.
In Lisbon, we continued to work our way through a total refurbishment of the hotel’s 518 bedrooms. A budget of €13m has been allocated to the fundamental refresh of the hotel’s bedrooms and bathrooms, with the project currently having completed 363 bedrooms. In spite of significant numbers of bedrooms and floors taken out of operation for refurbishment at any given time, the hotel has yet again posted year-on-year profit increases.
In Budapest, we are also midway through a three-year program to refurbish the hotel’s corridors and all of the property’s bathrooms, for a total cost of €4.3m. 122 of the hotel’s 440 bathrooms are done, with completion slated for 2020.
In Malta, a €7m refurbishment of the Corinthia Palace Hotel is underway, with major investments going into the hotel’s bedrooms, plant & equipment, as well as a state-of-the-art gym and spa scheduled for re-opening in 2019.
In Malta too, we have converted an entire floor of Sands Tower at the Golden Sands Resort into 9 luxury suites, for sale on a timeshare basis.
St George’s Bay
We have for some time now been focused on regenerating our property at St George’s Bay, in Malta. At this peninsula, we own three hotels, on a land plot of some 80,000m2. The guiding beacon for this major commitment is the standard set by our Corinthia brand worldwide, which we wish to replicate in Malta, our home base. To this end, plans have been finalized for the conversion of the current Corinthia Hotel into a six-star 220-bedroom luxury hotel. Given the extent and scope of the location, we are also negotiating terms for Government to permit the redevelopment of the site into a mixed-use destination, featuring luxury branded residences alongside another five-star hotel to replace the existing hotels. Negotiations on the form and value of our restated land title are ongoing and will require a number of regulatory and Parliamentary processes to be finalized. We augur that significant progress in this regard will be registered in 2019.
Our focus in St Petersburg has been the maximization of income from our non-hotel property. The Nevskij Plaza commercial centre and all our commercial areas on the front-facing Nevskij Boulevard are let to third parties with stable rent income being generated. Our sights have now turned towards two stand-alone properties we own on the street parallel to Nevksij Boulevard, which so far have been used as back-up offices for our own operation as well as rented to third parties. We intend to redevelop these properties through cashflow funding from the existing operations.