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Apple Leisure explores sale amid Chinese interest, say sources: Reuters

Apple Leisure Group, a resort operator in the Caribbean and Mexico, is exploring a sale that could value it at more than $1.5 billion, including debt, after attracting interest from Chinese companies, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move comes as Chinese firms led by Anbang Insurance Group Co seek to snap up cash-rich overseas hotel companies. Anbang just this year agreed to acquire Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc for $6.5 billion and tried to buy Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (HOT.N) for $14 billion.

Bain Capital Private Equity, the owner of Apple Leisure, has hired an investment bank to explore a sale of the company after receiving interest from companies that include Chinese conglomerates Fosun Group and HNA Group Co Ltd, the people said this week.

Apple Leisure has 12-month earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $170 million, the people added. There is no certainty that Bain will agree to sell Apple Leisure, one of the people said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the sale process is confidential. Representatives for Bain, Apple Leisure and Fosun declined to comment. HNA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Philadelphia-based Apple Leisure Group is comprised of AMResorts, Apple Vacations and Amstar DMC, which collectively manage nearly 40 resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico.

Bain bought a majority stake in Apple Leisure in 2013 which then quickly snapped up online sales platform and purchased tour operator Travel Impressions from American Express (AXP.N) later that year.

Last year, Fosun, owned by Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, paid 939 million euros ($1.1 billion) for Italy’s Club Med, the pioneer of all-inclusive resorts which started on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca in 1950.

HNA, a Chinese aviation and shipping conglomerate, has made several investments in the hospitality industry. In April, HNA Tourism Group, a division of HNA, agreed to buy U.S.-based Carlson Hotels Inc, the owner of the Radisson hotel chain, in a deal that quadrupled the number of HNA’s hotels around the world.

That deal gave HNA hotel brands that include the Radisson, Park Plaza, Country Inns & Suites and 1,400 hotels in 115 countries, adding to HNA’s current portfolio of 500 hotels.