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Oyo buys Las Vegas Hooters Hotel in its first US purchase

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In what is its first property purchase in U.S., Soft Bank-backed Oyo Hotels and Homes, has bought the Hooters Casino Hotel Las Vegas.

While, Oyo did not divulge the financial terms of the transaction, a person close to the development said Oyo and Highgate, an American real estate investment and hospitality management company, are together putting in $135 million for the asset.

Hooters Casino Hotel will now be rebranded and designed as Oyo Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, the company said in a statement. It provides 657 rooms across 19 floors and a 35,000 square-foot casino.

Highgate will assume management of the hotel, and Paragon Gaming will continue to operate the casino, Oyo said.

“We believe Las Vegas is an exciting city in which to invest as the market continues to evolve with projects such as the new Las Vegas Raiders NFL stadium and the $1 billion expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. As we continue to focus on bringing to life our popular concept of ‘comfort design’ and delivering chic hospitality experiences, we are increasingly exploring new ways to connect with our customers, from millennials, to young executives and families, in every city we enter,” said Abhinav Sinha, chief operating officer and OYO Hotels and Homes USA.

Earlier in June, Oyo had announced its plan to invest $300 million in the U.S. Currently, there it has over 112 Oyo Hotels in more than 60 cities and 21 states in the U.S.

“With our newest hotel in Las Vegas, we are excited to cater to a completely different audience segment,” said Ritesh Agarwal, founder and chief executive, OYO Hotels and Homes.

Founded in 2013, OYO Hotels & Homes is the world’s third-largest chain of hotels, homes, managed living and workspaces. The portfolio combines fully operated real estate comprising of more than 23,000 hotels and 125,000 vacation homes. Over the years, it has attracted an array of investors including the likes of Airbnb, SoftBank Vision Fund, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Greenoaks Capital, Sequoia Capital India, and Hero Enterprise.

Oyo has been on an acquisition spree. In July, it confirmed its acquisition of Innov8, a co-working spaces provider, highlighting the company’s increasing focus on the fast-growing segment. While Oyo did not disclose financial details of the Innov8 acquisition, it is pegged to be around $30 million, according to a TechCrunch report.

In May, Oyo said it has agreed to acquire Amsterdam-based @Leisure Group, from Axel Springer, a media and technology company, for an undisclosed amount. @Leisure is a vacation rental company in Europe, which manages holiday homes, holiday parks, and holiday apartments. The transaction was pegged around $416 million, according to several media reports.

Last year, it acquired Mumbai-based Weddingz.in, an online marketplace for wedding venues, and AblePlus Solutions Pvt. Ltd, an Internet of Things (IoT) technology company.

It claims to have a balance sheet of about $1.5 billion. OYO has raised nearly $1.7 billion in funding over 12 rounds.

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Rupee slips 7 paise to 71.26 against USD as China virus fears spooked investors

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The rupee depreciated by 7 paise to close at 71.26 against the US dollar on Thursday as the spread of a deadly new virus from China spooked investors.

However, softening crude prices and strong domestic equity market restricted the rupee’s fall, forex dealer said. At the interbank foreign exchange market, the local currency opened on a weak note at 71.21. During the day, it swung between a high of 71.16 and a low of 71.35.

The Indian currency finally settled at 71.26, registering a 7 paise decline over its previous close.

“USD/INR Pair traded in range of 71.20–71.30, as markets looks out for new triggers rupee keeps trading in range but with weak bias due to corona virus being spread in China, which can dampen investment infusion. Rupee can be range of 71.20-71.35 in coming sessions,” Jateen Trivedi, Senior Research Analyst (Commodity & Currency) at LKP Securities said.

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Reliance outpaces industry in petrol, diesel sales from its outlets

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Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has outpaced industry in clocking double digit sales growth in petrol and diesel from its nearly 1,400-odd petrol pumps in the third quarter ended December 31, 2019.

In an investor presentation post announcing earnings for October-December 2019, Reliance, operator of the world’s largest oil refining complex, said it registered an 11 per cent growth in diesel sales and 15 per cent growth rate in petrol sales from its 1,394 fuel retail outlets.

This is compared to industry growth rate of 0.2 per cent for diesel and 7.1 per cent for petrol.

Its per outlet throughput at 342 kilolitres per month was also nearly double that of petrol pumps operated by public sector firms such as Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL).

“Superior product mix and high asset utilisation underpinned strong earnings,” it said in the presentation adding India’s oil demand grew 3.2 per cent in October-December with petrol demand rising 7.1 per cent and LPG surging by 15 per cent.

“Preference for petrol cars, improving road infrastructure and rural connectivity is driving petrol demand,” it said. A pick up in tourist movement post festive season provided support to ATF demand.

Reliance said there was a strong traction in retail and bulk fuel sales through its network.

“Growth driven by focus on large fleet customers (25 per cent year-on-year growth), fleet aggregators (114 per cent),” it said.

Its ATF sales were driving up via new customer acquisition and higher share from existing customers. “Improved ATF network competitiveness through logistical and supply source optimization,” the presentation said.

LPG sales was up 37 per cent with new customers and increasing penetration in new markets.

Reliance said its petrol retail sales revenues were up 5 per cent at Rs 3,725 crore in the third quarter. As much as 538 million litres of fuel was sold in the three month period.

Of the 1,394 petrol pumps that Reliance operates, 518 are company owned and the remaining dealer operated.

In April last year, Reliance agreed to sell 49 per cent in its petro retail business to UK’s BP plc for Rs 7,000 crore. Reliance-BP joint venture agreed to expand the network to 5,500 in the next five years.

The country currently has 66,817 petrol pumps, with public sector retailers owning 59,716. PSU retailers have plans to double this network and have already starting appointing dealers. Russia’s Rosneft-backed Nayara Energy, formerly Essar Oil, has 5,525 petrol pumps and has plans to scale them up to more than 7,000 in two-three years. Royal Dutch Shell has 169 outlets and is slated to add 150-200 more petrol pumps.

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Amazon’s $1-bn investment not a favour for India: Piyush Goyal

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Commerce minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said global online retail giant Amazon.com Inc indulged in predatory pricing even as Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vijay Chauthaiwale took a dig at its founder Jeff Bezos for publishing “unduly” critical reports on the Modi government in The Washington Post, which he owns.

A day after Bezos, currently on a visit to India, announced fresh investments of $1 billion in India, Goyal said Amazon was not doing any favours to the country with its investment asked whether the huge losses made by the company were linked to “predatory pricing or some unfair trade practices”.

Goyal acknowledged Amazon’s investments in warehousing but asked whether the money was being brought in “largely to finance losses in an e-commerce market place model.” He added that this raised questions of “where the loss came from”.

There has been considerable pressure on the government from the affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, its ideological parent, and also trader groups to reconsider the policy on FDI in online retail. Traders claim Amazon is taking away their business. Amazon’s position is that it serves as a platform in India and that many of the traders who complain are themselves on the platform.

Ashwani Mahajan of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an affiliate of the RSS, said Goyal’s comments indicate that the Centre may have become “more sensitized to the problems of opening up FDI (in online retail)”.

“There is a fear in every trader’s mind that these global chains will kill their business.”

Meanwhile, reacting to a statement by Bezos where he said the 21st century will be India’s; Chauthaiwale tweeted: “@JeffBezos, please tell this to your employees in Washington DC. Otherwise your charm offensive is likely to be waste of time and money.”

“I am a regular customer of Amazon and not against them. But I am definitely against what Washington Post is writing,” Chautaiwale said.

An Amazon spokesperson did not immediately comment on the matter.

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