Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Local firm busiest hotel buyer in Canada so far this year

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A Winnipeg real estate investment firm was the busiest hotel buyer in the country in the first half of 2013, adding six new properties to its fast-growing portfolio.

The latest acquisitions by Temple Hotels Inc. included three hotels in Nova Scotia, and one each in Edmonton, London, Ont., and Ottawa.

Earlier this year, Temple also finalized a tentative deal reached late last year, which saw it acquire its first Manitoba property -- the Holiday Inn Winnipeg South on Pembina Highway. Temple said the deal was valued at $11 million.

The six Temple acquisitions were among a total of 56 hotel transactions recorded in Canada during the first six months of 2013, according to a new report from Colliers International Hotels.

The transactions had a combined value of $810 million, Colliers said, which was the largest mid-year transaction volume since 2007. It was also a 21 per cent increase from the previous year's first-half total.

The Holiday Inn was one of two Winnipeg hotels included on the Colliers list of transations. The other was CentreVenture Development Corporation's acquisition of the downtown St. Regis Hotel, which Colliers said was purchased for $5 million.

In an interview last January, Temple chairman and CEO Arni Thorsteinson said the company's goal was to acquire 10 hotels in 2013.

"And that's still the plan," he said in an interview Friday, adding it already has four other deals in the works that should be announced within the next month or so. "So we will hit our target (for the year)."

Thorsteinson said Temple's longer-term goal is to have 50 hotels and $2 billion in assets in its portfolio by 2018. The portfolio currently boasts 25 hotels and an asset value of $800 million.

Although Thorsteinson said last January Temple hoped to acquire its first U.S. hotel property in 2013, that plan has since been moved to the back burner. Instead, the company will focus on the Canadian market, he said, where there are plenty of hotels available and fewer buyers to compete against.

In many instances, the owners of these available properties are ready to retire and don't have any children interested in taking over the operations, Thorsteinson said. So they're putting them up for sale.

That was the case with the three Nova Scotia hotels Temple acquired. They were all owned by the same family.

This year was Temple's first foray into Eastern Canada. Previously, all of its acquisitions had been in Western Canada, with a heavy concentration of properties in the booming Fort McMurray, Alta., market.

While the company wants to acquire more hotels in Eastern Canada, Thorsteinson said it also continues to pursue opportunities in the western half of the country. In fact, two of the four deals it's currently working on involve properties in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Temple Hotel Inc.'s shares (TPH) trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange and closed Friday down one cent to $5.54.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2013 B6

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