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China's HNA Group agrees to buy Carlson Hotels

A unit of China's HNA Group Co. Ltd. agreed to buyRadisson operator Carlson Hotels Inc. and approximately 51.3% of Brussels-basedRezidor Hotel Group AB.

The financial terms of the April 27 agreement betweenHNA Tourism Group Co. Ltd. and Carlson Hospitality Group Inc. were notdisclosed in the merger announcement.

Bloomberg News reported that "people withknowledge of the matter" had said in March that a sale could garner about$2 billion.

Carlson said that the merger was unanimously approvedby its board. The group was reportedto have commenced an exploration of strategic alternatives for the company inJanuary.

Following completion of the deal and subsequent transferof Carlson's stake in Rezidor, the Chinese group would be required underSwedish law to launch a mandatory takeover for the remaining approximately48.7% stake it does not own in Rezidor.

Alternatively, within four weeks from the close of theCarlson-HNA Tourism deal, HNA could elect to trim its stake in Rezidor to below30%.

The merger, still subject to regulatory approvals andother customary closing conditions, is anticipated to close in the second halfof 2016.

Carlson Hospitality CEO David Berg will remain CEO ofthe merged business, and Carlson Hotels' headquarters will remain inMinnetonka, Minn.

Carlson Hotels owns the Quorvus Collection, RadissonBlu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, Country Inns& Suites By CarlsonSM brands and the Club CarlsonSM global hotel rewardsprogram. It has 1,400 hotels in operation in 115 countries and territories.

HNA Hospitality, meanwhile, operates roughly 500hotels with nearly 90,000 rooms, in key cities in China and other countries.Its subsidiary, HNA Tourism, was founded in Beijing in March 2007 and is described as a "globalintegrated tourism conglomerate."

Morgan Stanley and BDT & Co. were financialadvisers, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Advokatfirman Vinge KBas legal advisers to Carlson Hotels. Meanwhile, J.P. Morgan and BenedettoGartland & Co. were the financial advisers and Hogan Lovells andAdvokatfirman Lindahl KB were legal advisers to HNA Tourism.

Earlier in March, French hotelier rumors that it was interestedin Carlson Rezidor.