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China's HNA to buy Radisson operator Carlson Hotels

HONG KONG — A unit of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group has agreed to buy Carlson Hotels, which owns brands including Radisson and Country Inns and Suites, the latest in a flurry of overseas investments by Chinese companies.

HNA Tourism Group will acquire all of Carlson Hotels Inc., the companies said in a joint statement released late Wednesday that did not disclose the purchase price.

They said that Carlson's headquarters would remain in Minnetonka, Minn., after the deal is completed.

HNA Tourism Chairman Bai Haibo said buying Carlson Hotels will help the Chinese company "establish our presence in the U.S. market and expand our footprint in hospitality internationally."

He added that HNA would "accelerate growth by investing substantially in the business."

The purchase is the latest in a string of global transactions by Chinese companies as they diversify abroad to counter slowing growth at home while also scooping up foreign expertise and technology.

Other deals this year include Haier Group's acquisition of General Electric's home appliance business, conglomerate Wanda Group's purchase of Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment, and state-owned ChemChina's mammoth $43 billion bid for Swiss pesticide maker Syngenta. It also comes weeks after China's Anbang Insurance Group was thwarted by Marriott International in its attempt to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

As part of the deal, the Chinese company will also acquire a 51.3 per cent stake in Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel Group AB, which operates Carlson hotels in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Under Swedish takeover rules, HNA is required to either buy the remaining shares of Rezidor it doesn't own or sell its stake down to 30 per cent.

Carlson has 1,400 hotels in 115 countries and territories and employs about 90,000 staff worldwide.

HNA Group, based in southern Hainan province, operates hotels, airlines, airports and financial services and real estate businesses.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016.

Kelvin Chan, The Associated Press

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