DealBook: The Hotel Industry vs. Airbnb

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Monday, April 17, 2017

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In the past, hotel executives have played down Airbnb's impact on their industry, but documents reveal a
In the past, hotel executives have played down Airbnb’s impact on their industry, but documents reveal a “multipronged, national campaign” to try to rein it in. Minh Uong/The New York Times
By Amie Tsang
Any start-up looking to shake up an industry will inevitably face a regulatory thicket, and Airbnb is no different.
The hotel industry has declared war on the short-term rental company by raising regulatory concerns, even as hotel executives have tried to play down the effect Airbnb has had on their businesses.
The tussle is heating up before a possible initial public offering of Airbnb.
Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s chief executive, has said that the company will be ready to go public in a year, and investors estimate its value to be about $30 billion. By comparison, Hilton’s market capitalization is $19 billion, and Marriott’s is $35 billion.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association, a trade group that counts Marriott and Hilton among its members, has a “multipronged, national campaign approach at the local, state and federal level” to thwart Airbnb, according to minutes of the association’s board meeting in November.
The group has claimed credit for a recent federal investigation into how companies like Airbnb affect housing costs, as well as for a New York City law imposing fines on hosts who break local housing rules.
“We are trying to showcase and bust the myth that Airbnb supports mom and pop and helps them make extra money,” said Troy Flanagan, the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s vice president for state and local government affairs. “Homesharing is not what this is about.”
document outlining the association’s plan specified that one imperative was to “aggressively counter” Airbnb’s narrative of giving middle-class families a way to make a little extra money with a “wave of personal testimonials of consumer harm.”
Ant Financial Raises Bid for Moneygram
How much is the Chinese online payments company Ant Financial willing to pay for an international money transfer network?
As of Sunday, at least $1.2 billion.
That’s the value of Ant Financial’s improved bid for Moneygram of the United States. The new offer, raised by more than a third, takes it higher than a rival bid from Euronet, another American company.
Euronet had overtaken Ant Financial’s original offer of $880 million with a bid of $995 million.
Even if Ant wins the bidding war, it could still face regulatory hurdles.
Euronet has lobbied American lawmakers and the Treasury Department, arguing that an Ant takeover could pose privacy and information-control risks.
But Douglas Feagin, the head of international business for Ant Financial, told The Wall Street Journal that progress had been made on a review by the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The committee can study any deal that could impact American national security, and it is able to recommend blocking the deal or to suggest ways to mitigate concerns.
Ant and Moneygram said in a joint statement that progress had been made toward obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals, including antitrust clearance, Reuters reported.
It seems the chance to become a global player in payments is worth the money and effort.
“The value in the worldwide platform became more and more apparent to us,” Mr. Feagin told The Financial Times.
Private Equity and the Software Bet
Where private equity companies were once wary, they are now stoking debate about a bubble, The Financial Times reported. Here are some of the big deals that are attracting attention:
• Vista Equity Partners, which focuses on software companies, has bought four companies for more than $1 billion each in the last four months.
• Thoma Bravo, which focuses on turning around technology companies, in September closed its 12th fund at $7.6 billion, which surpassed an initial target of about $7 billion because of high investor demand.
• There is also competition from Silver Lake, which took part in Dell’s $67 billion acquisition of EMC and is raising a $15 billion fund.
• And SoftBank is targeting $100 billion for its Vision fund.
But even Orlando Bravo, the managing partner at Thoma Bravo, says he thinks the boom could blow up.
“The thing I don’t like about the whole asset class is I haven’t seen other groups sell that much,” Mr. Bravo told The Financial Times.
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