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The Ascott Limited invests in China’s answer to Airbnb

The Ascott Limited, the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator, has invested over £55m in – China’s answer to apartment-sharing website Airbnb. The joint venture, which will see Ascott operate and franchise serviced apartments with the site, will allow Ascott to expand its portfolio and meet its target of 20,000 units in China by 2020.

As part of the joint venture with Tujia, Ascott will operate serviced apartments located within the key growth cities of China using a new brand. This will include newly sourced properties and Tujia’s serviced apartments in China that are suitable for conversion. Ascott is the largest international serviced residence owner-operator in China with over 14,000 apartment units in 77 properties across 24 cities.  

Beijing-based Tujia’s apartment sharing site, valued at more than US$1 billion, caters to travellers looking for alternatives to hotels for business and leisure. The website features more than 310,000 apartments in 388 locations across China as well as overseas, including Bangkok, Singapore and Tokyo. Besides its online capabilities, Tujia operates some apartments for owners for a fee and franchises its business to third-party operators.  

Mr Lee Chee Koon, Ascott’s CEO, who has also been appointed to the board of directors of Tujia, said: “China’s lengthening list of billion-dollar technology startups is an indication of investors’ confidence in the country’s booming internet sector. The growth of mobile internet connectivity via devices like smart phones and tablets has enabled internet commerce to thrive and establish itself as a mainstream market at an exponential rate, especially in China where the size of the market is considerably greater than just physical transactions. By investing in Tujia, a frontrunner in the online apartment sharing platform, Ascott is now well positioned to benefit from this growth.”  

“This investment will also allow Ascott to better integrate our offline resources with Tujia’s online capabilities to participate more strategically in the Chinese internet space. We plan to make our three internationally recognised brands of serviced residences – Ascott, Citadines and Somerset – available on Tujia’s website for booking, expanding our reach to more customers online. With the rapid increase in Chinese travellers overseas and Ascott’s presence in many of the tourist and business cities worldwide, our penetration of the Chinese market through our partnership with Tujia is also expected to contribute to Ascott’s business globally.”  

Mr Justin Luo Jun, Co-founder and CEO of Tujia, said: “We welcome Ascott onboard as a strategic investor and a key joint-venture partner. Our collaboration with Ascott will allow us to tap in on Ascott’s 30 years of expertise to offer more world-class serviced apartments and strengthen Tujia’s position as the leading online apartment sharing platform in China.”

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