Accor Full-Year Profit Rises as CEO's Hotel Revamp Pays Off

Accor SA, Europe’s largest hotel operator, said 2015 profit increased almost 11 percent as an overhaul of the French company paid off and demand for accommodation rose in most of Europe.

Earnings before interest and taxes increased to 665 million euros ($740 million) from 602 million euros a year earlier, the Paris-based owner of the Sofitel and Ibis brands said in a statement on Thursday. That beat the average estimate of 663 million euros from 19 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The shares rose as much as 3.2 percent, to the highest since Feb. 1, and were trading at 35.22 euros at 9:53 a.m.

"The momentum driven by the strategic, operational and cultural transformation," is "clearly producing results," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sebastien Bazin said in the statement. "AccorHotels is moving forward."

Since taking up his post in 2013, Bazin has made wide-ranging changes that include cutting costs, expanding in China, adding luxury properties and competing more aggressively online. In December, Accor agreed to buy the owner of the upscale Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel brands for about $2.9 billion in shares and cash. Earlier in the year, Accor acquired hotel-reservation service Fastbooking.

Accor, which operates almost 500,000 rooms -- most of which are in Europe -- said revenue rose 2.3 percent globally to 5.6 billion euros, driven by increases in Spain, Italy, Germany and the U.K.

Business in France was hit by terrorist attacks in November, which pushed revenue in the country down 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter, leading to a 0.5 percent drop for the year.

In October, the company said it was targeting full-year EBIT of between 655 million euros and 675 million euros.

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