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Loews Hotels Targets London And Paris

Published on Dec 2 2014 8:25 PM in Hotel

Loews Hotels Targets London And Paris

Loews Corp.’s hotels unit is weighing a push into Europe after hiring InterContinental Hotels Group Plc’s Kirk Kinsell as chief executive officer.

“We’re a fairly small player that wants to get bigger,” Loews Hotels & Resorts Chairman Jonathan Tisch said today in a phone interview. “Kirk has vast international experience. We will be open to his ideas about how we might expand.”

Kinsell, 59, the president of Americas for InterContinental, will take over on 2 March for Paul Whetsell, who will become vice chairman, New York-based Loews said today in a statement. Kinsell was previously president of IHG’s business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He and Whetsell, 64, will both report to Tisch.

Loews has been buying and building hotels in a push to broaden its customer base, expanding the number of properties to 21 from 18 when Whetsell began as CEO in 2012, Tisch said. The company has six hotels in Florida and is also in regions including New York, Philadelphia and Boston.

“If you look at the No. 1 major US market we are not in, it is San Francisco,” Tisch said. “Key markets internationally for our clientele are London and Paris.”

Loews is working to bolster operations at its hotel unit, commercial insurer CNA Financial and Diamond Offshore Drilling after selling an unprofitable unit that explored for natural gas.

Loews bought a hotel near the Chicago O’Hare International Airport from InterContinental in July, and is scheduled to open a separate downtown property next year. The company is planning a fifth Orlando, Florida, location for 2016.

The hotel unit contributed $8 million of net income during the first nine months of this year as the company incurred what it called “non-recurring” costs. That compares with more than $500 million at CNA.

“Financial results are improving nicely” in the hotels business, Loews CEO James Tisch said in a conference call last month. “Although that’s tough to discern from our reported segment information.”

Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland

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