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Millennium & Copthorne Eyes Europe as Asian Hotel Growth Slows

Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Plc said it will take advantage of low property and hotel prices in Europe as revenue growth in Asia slows and the cost of buying elsewhere is taking too long to come down.

“We are watching very closely situations in continental Europe,” Chief Executive Officer Wong Hong Ren said in a conference call with reporters today. “We are not rushing to buy anything for the sake of acquisitions, we will always wait to buy at the right price.”

Millennium & Copthorne had first-half pretax profit of 79 million pounds ($123 million), 1.6 percent down on last year, while hotel revenue for the same period was unchanged at 366 million pounds, the company said in a statement.

Markets in Asian countries are growing more slowly after the double-digit growth the company experienced in the last three quarters, Wong said. Asian operations accounted for 43.6 percent of revenue in 2011, compared with 10.6 percent from businesses in Europe.

European buying opportunities come at a time of a worsening hospitality markets, Wong said. Millennium & Copthorne’s European hotels saw a decline of 3.3 percent in revenue per available room.

The U.K. is a particular challenge because of increased competition and pressure on room rates and occupancy, the company said in a statement. Revenue per available room in its London hotels fell by 12.5 percent in the first 24 days of July, partly because of a slowdown in visitor numbers before the Olympic Games, the company said.

Wong said the results were no better than expected, attributing the slowdown in visitor numbers to a reluctance to travel to London.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sofia Horta e Costa in London at shortaecosta@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Lytle at dlytle@bloomberg.net

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