Colony bets on French casinos

The US private equity firm is backing French hotel group Accor in its E258m acquisition of Compagnie Européenne de Casinos.

Colony Capital, a US private equity firm is backing the French hotel group Accor, which is expanding its casino business. The firm is taking a 50 per cent stake in Accor, enabling the group to fund its purchase of all the shares in Compagnie Européenne de Casinos (CEC) that it did not already own.

Earlier in the month, Accor had paid E52 a share for a 40 per cent stake in CEC, which runs 22 mostly France-based casinos. Having given Accor full control of the business, the deal increases the number of casinos in Accor’s stable to 38, bolstering the group’s casino and slot machine activities in a market that, according to Accor, is entering a period of consolidation.

Joel Mingasson, general manager at Accor, said in the last three years most French casinos were independently owned, but were now coming under the control of larger groups. “For us, CEC was a good target at the right price. They have run their casinos in much the same way we do and this deal doubles our operation.”

Commenting on the decision to do the deal with a US-based financial partner, Mingasson said: “Colony was the right choice because they know casinos and we have worked with them before,” he said.

Colony Capital specialises in real estate and earlier in the year bought Resorts International, a string of casinos in the US. In Europe the group has invested more than $1.5bn, and first worked with Accor in 1999, when the pair paid an undisclosed sum to the Vivendi Group for the Demeure and Libertel hotels.