Accor to buy majority holding in 21c Museum Hotels

George Sell By George Sell
01 August 2018 | Updated 01 August 2018

US: AccorHotels has signed an agreement to acquire 85 per cent of Kentucky-based 21c Museum Hotels for $51 million.

21c combines a multi-venue contemporary art museum, boutique hotels and chef-driven restaurants, with 11 properties currently open and under development across the US.

21c Museum Hotels was founded in 2006 in Louisville by philanthropists and contemporary art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. The pair had seen the region's farmland and rural landscapes fall to development while the historic buildings of Louisville's downtown sat vacant. Inspired by the idea that art can ignite urban revitalisation and catalyse civic connection, Brown and Wilson rehabilitated a series of 19th century warehouses in Louisville's downtown arts and theatre district to open the first 21c Museum Hotel.

The success of the Louisville flagship created opportunities for expansion; today the company operates eight 21c properties in Bentonville, Cincinnati, Durham, Kansas City, Lexington, Louisville, Nashville and Oklahoma City, with three more in development in Des Moines, Miami and Chicago. 21c Museum is one of the largest contemporary art museums in the United States, and North America's only collecting museum dedicated solely to art of the 21st century. Open and accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 21c's exhibitions and programs are free to the public.

21c Museum Hotels will join AccorHotels' MGallery collection of boutique hotels, marking the introduction of the MGallery brand into the North American market.

Co-founders Brown and Wilson will retain a 15 per cent stake in the company, and will remain closely involved in providing creative guidance and support. 21c Museum Hotels will continue to be led by president and CEO Craig Greenberg. Corporate headquarters for 21c will remain in Louisville, Kentucky.

The purchase price for the 85% stake is $51 million, including a potential earn out payment. No real estate is included in this acquisition. The transaction should be completed during the third quarter of 2018.

Kevin Frid, COO, North & Central America for AccorHotels, said: "We are delighted to welcome 21c Museum Hotels as part of the AccorHotels family of brands, hence strengthening the group's footprint in North America in a very unique and promising niche. Together, we have a tremendous opportunity to grow the 21c brand, as well as introduce MGallery into the North American market, building both brand equities and further expanding the full range of unparalleled experiences for our guests. This strategic acquisition marks a new step in AccorHotels' strategy of being the leading player in the Luxury and Lifestyle segment in North America."

21c founder Steve Wilson, said: "21c Museum Hotels is proud to announce our entry into the AccorHotels family. AccorHotels is one of the world's leading hotel operators and will be a perfect partner and catalyst for 21c's continued growth. We are confident that the unique spirit of 21c will not only be preserved, but will flourish within the MGallery collection of boutique hotels. 21c will continue to bring the work of today's most dynamic and engaging contemporary artists to the public, and this partnership will be a tremendous boost for 21c's continued development in North America and abroad. We are extremely excited to see what the future holds."

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