27 de julio de 2016 / 17:47 / hace un año

UPDATE 1-AccorHotels eyes higher profit despite Brexit, Europe attacks

4 MIN. DE LECTURA

* H1 EBIT 239 mln euros vs Rtrs poll 257 mln euros

* Eyes 2016 EBIT of between 670-720 mln euros

* Flags Brexit, Europe attacks, Turkey uncertainty (Adds CFO comments from call)

By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, July 27 (Reuters) - AccorHotels on Wednesday predicted its operating profit would rise further this year as Europe's largest hotel group reaps the fruits of its restructuring and gets a boost from the acquisition of luxury hotel group FRHI Holdings.

The world's fifth-largest hotel group however expressed caution about the impact of Britain's vote to leave the European Union and attacks in France and Germany and said the situation in Turkey was "still difficult to measure".

AccorHotels, undergoing an overhaul begun by Chief Executive Sebastien Bazin in 2013, forecast a 2016 operating profit of between 670 million euros ($736.20 million) and 720 million euros, compared with 665 million in 2015. A ThomsonReuters poll produced a forecast of 713 million euros.

"We are giving a target range that is broader than in previous years and reflects some degree of uncertainty," Chief Financial Officer Jean-Jacques Morin told a conference call.

The group will fine-tune this estimate when it releases its third-quarter sales in October, he added.

First-half operating profit fell 4 percent like-for-like to 239 million euros, below the Thomson Reuters average estimate of 257 million euros, as weak trading in France following Islamist attacks in Paris and slumping profits in recession-hit Brazil weighed.

First-half revenue grew 2 percent like-for-like, reflecting solid activity elsewhere in Europe, notably in Britain and in Germany, as well as in recovering southern Europe.

AccorHotels was cautious about France, its largest market accounting for 30 percent of group revenue and EBIT, where profit fell 4.2 percent in the first half and Revenue per Available Room (RevPar) in Paris alone fell 14 percent.

Commenting on the impact of the Bastille Day attack in Nice, Morin said that at this stage AccorHotels' Nice business was down 10 percent. The group had however not yet seen an impact of the attack on bookings in the rest of France.

Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said last week that tourism in the Nice area had already seen bookings plunge by 20-30 percent after the attack.

Britain is the group's third-largest market after France and Germany, accounting for around 15 percent of its sales and EBIT.

Britain's vote to leave the EU has caused the value of the pound to fall by about 10 percent, making it more expensive for Britons to travel abroad, and prompted consumer uncertainty.

Morin said the pound's fall could cost AccorHotels 10-15 million euros in second-half profit but with more Britons staying in their country it could also sustain Accor's business in Britain, where it has 220 hotels.

Bazin, a private equity specialist who took over in August 2013, has split Accor into two divisions, HotelServices and HotelInvest, separating its hotel services business from its property activities in a move to boost profitability.

Last week Bazin announced a plan to turn HotelInvest into a subsidiary, paving the way to selling the majority of its capital to institutional investors to raise cash for the group's further expansion.

As part of the restructuring Bazin has also expanded the group's business in China and increased its exposure to the luxury sector with the $2.7 billion acquisition of FRHI Holdings, owner of London's Savoy and New York's Plaza hotels.

AccorHotels has also been strengthening its digital expertise with a flurry of small deals to fight the rising challenge of companies such as Airbnb and online travel agents (OTAs) Expedia and Booking.com.

$1 = 0.9101 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, editing by Astrid Wendlandt and David Evans

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