08 Oct

Ascott Adds Georgia To Its Global Footprint With First Citadines Property

Ascott – First international serviced residence company to enter Georgia

Singapore, 8 October 2007 –  The Ascott Group (Ascott) has secured a management contract from Amtel Properties Development (Amtel) for a new serviced residence in Georgia.  To be named Citadines Tbilisi Freedom Square, the 65-unit property will add Georgia to Ascott’s global footprint.  Ascott will be the first international serviced residence operator in the country when the property opens in the second half of 2008.  Ascott’s entry into Georgia will boost the Group’s expansion into the emerging Eastern European market.

Citadines Tbilisi Freedom Square is centrally located in the heart of town, next to Freedom Square, a popular tourist attraction.  Cafes, restaurants and supermarkets are conveniently located within a few minutes’ walk.  The seven-storey property, which is under development, brings Ascott’s European portfolio to over 5,600 units in 49 properties.

Mr Lim Chin Beng, Ascott’s Chairman, said: "Europe is a key market for Ascott’s global expansion, and Georgia presents us with the unique opportunity to establish first-mover advantage as there is currently no international serviced residence operator in the country.  The Georgia government’s prudent macroeconomic policies, public sector reforms and concerted efforts to attract foreign direct investments (FDI) are expected to boost the country’s growth prospects, especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors.  The timing is right for Ascott to enter the market now."

Ms Jennie Chua, Ascott’s President & CEO, said: "With growing FDIs into the country and increasing business activity in Tbilisi, we foresee strong growth in the demand for quality accommodation by international business visitors as well as intra-regional business travellers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).  Citadines Tbilisi Freedom Square, when opened, will not only allow the Group to grow its market presence in Europe but also further enhance the visibility of our ‘Citadines’ brand in the region."

Mr Sudhir Gupta, Amtel’s Founder and Chairman, said: "We are pleased to award the management of Citadines Tbilisi Freedom Square to Ascott.  Being an international serviced residence company with proven record in managing a global portfolio of award-winning properties, Ascott will certainly bring value to our hospitality businesses in the region."

Georgia is located in the Caucasus at the east coast of the Black Sea, and is bordered on the north by Russia, the south by Turkey and Armenia, and the east by Azerbaijan.  With a rich cultural and historical heritage, the country has a strong tourism appeal.  It has an educated labour force, widespread land ownership, a long tradition of entrepreneurship, and a rich resource base that offers strong economic growth potential.

According to the World Bank, Georgia’s gross domestic product in 2006 grew by 9.4% to reach US$7.9 billion.  Business Monitor International also reported that Georgia’s FDI more than doubled in 2006 to reach US$1.1 billion, as compared to the US$450 million achieved in 2005.  More multinational companies are also venturing into Georgia.  For example, British Petroleum and its partners have invested US$5 billion over the last ten years to develop oil and gas pipelines in the country; HSBC Bank has also announced that it will set up HSBC Bank Georgia in Tbilisi.

Georgia received 900,000 visitors in 2006; the government is targeting to achieve 3.5 million visitors by 2011[1].  According to a recent survey commissioned by Georgia’s department of Tourism, 63.6% of the foreigners who arrive in Georgia are there for business and professional purposes.  There are currently four international-class hotels in Georgia; they are all located in Tbilisi and supply about 400 rooms in total. The management contract is not expected to have any material impact on the net tangible assets of earnings per share of The Ascott Group Limited for the current financial year.

About Amtel Group of Companies

Founded by Mr Sudhir Gupta in the late 1980s, Amtel Group of Companies has successfully established itself in a wide range of industries in Russia and CIS ranging from petrochemicals trading to juice manufacturing. From the late 1990s, Amtel primarily focused on manufacturing and distribution of tyres. Today, Amtel-Vredestein is the fourth largest tyre producer in Europe with a 35% share of Russian automobile tyre market and sales of US$850 million. Recently Mr Gupta started investing heavily into real estate in Russia and CIS, diversifying his business interests. Amtel Properties Development has a sizeable land bank and an impressive portfolio of properties in Russia, Ukraine and Georgia.

About The Ascott Group

The Ascott Group is the largest international serviced residence owner-operator outside the United States with over 14,000 operating serviced residence units in key cities of Asia Pacific, Europe and the Gulf region, as well as another 5,200 units which are under development, making a total of over 19,200 units.

The Group operates three brands – Ascott, Somerset and Citadines. Its portfolio spans 52 cities in 23 countries, 10 of which are cities where Ascott's serviced residences are being newly developed. Ascott's properties can be found in cities including London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Barcelona in Europe; Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong in Asia; Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland in Australia / New Zealand, as well as Dubai in the Gulf region.

The Ascott Group is headquartered in Singapore. It pioneered Asia Pacific's first branded luxury serviced residence in 1984. It also established the world’s first pan-Asian serviced residence real estate investment trust, Ascott Residence Trust in 2006. Today, the Group boasts a 23-year industry track record and serviced residence brands that enjoy recognition worldwide.

The Ascott Group's achievements have been recognised internationally. Recent awards include Business Traveller UK Awards 2007 'Best Serviced Residence Company', Business Traveller Asia Pacific Awards 2007 'Best Serviced Residence Brand' and 'Best Serviced Residence', Forbes China 2008 ‘China’s Best Serviced Apartments’, TravelWeekly Asia Industry Awards 2007 'Best Serviced Residence (Group)', China 2007 'Top 100 Serviced Apartments Award', Vietnam Economic Times 2006 'Golden Dragon Award', The Asset's 2006 'Triple A Country Award for Best Deal in Singapore', Travel Weekly China 2006 'Best Serviced Residence', Business Traveller China 2006 'Best Serviced Residence Brand in China', TTG Travel 2006 'Best Serviced Residence', 2006 World Travel Awards, Business Traveller Asia Pacific 2006 'Best Serviced Residence Brand' and 'Best Serviced Residence' awards. For a full list of awards, please visit https://www.theascottgroup.com/aboutus/awards_and_accolades.html?year=2007

Listed on the mainboard of the Singapore Exchange, The Ascott Group is the serviced residence arm of CapitaLand Limited, one of the largest listed real estate companies in Asia. Headquartered in Singapore, the multinational company's core businesses in real estate, hospitality and real estate financial services are focused in gateway cities in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. The company's real estate and hospitality portfolio spans more than 90 cities in over 20 countries.

For more information on The Ascott Group’s property listings, visit https://www.theascottgroup.com/aboutus/group_directory.html

[1] Source: "A colourful history, inviting coastal resorts and quality cuisine", The Wall Street Journal, 12 September 2007