Darby will be a substantial minority investor in a newly formed company,
Choice Atlantica Holdings, Ltd. The
group expects to develop an estimated 140 hotels in South America over the next five years.
Choice Atlantica Hotels holds the master franchise agreement to develop
Choice hotel products - Comfort Inns,
Comfort Suites, Clarions, Quality Inns, Quality Suites and Sleep Inns - in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay,
Paraguay, Ecuador and Bolivia. Darby, whose founder and CEO is former U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, is a private emerging markets investment firm based in Washington, D.C.
Under the joint agreement, Choice will identify sites, oversee the development
process and manage the hotels
when they become operational. Additional investors will be brought in at the property level on a
Darby Managing Director Jose Falconi, who has executive responsibilities
for Darby's Latin American private
equity fund, stated: "There is substantial, unsatisfied demand in South America for moderately priced, reputable,
well-run hotels. For example, there are currently almost no hotels that cater to the Mercosur regional travel market. Choice Atlantica has the right format and the right business strategy to capitalize on this market need. We think
this is an excellent investment opportunity."
With both development and operations expertise, Choice Atlantica Hotels
often manages the hotels when they
open or are converted. The group has experienced rapid expansion throughout the last several months and
presently has 37 hotels under development in Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
"Our partnership with Darby makes tremendous sense to all investors
involved as well as to the markets where
we are developing hotels. We are very optimistic about this new venture and its potential for investors," said
Greg Ryan, chairman of Choice Atlantica Hotels. "As we have seen from our present extensive investments in
South America, there are seemingly endless opportunities to develop high-quality, affordable lodging - such as
the products offered by Choice - throughout South America."
A veteran of the franchise industry in South America, Ryan orchestrated
the development of McDonald's stores
throughout Brazil over a 17-year period and remains chairman of the board of the organization he founded,
McDonald's Comercio de Alimentos, Ltda., a wholly owned subsidiary of McDonald's Corporation. McDonald's
is opening approximately one new store in Brazil every four days.
Choice Atlantica Hotels is a subsidiary of Barrington International
Hospitality, one of the world's largest
independent international hospitality management companies, with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Sao Paulo, Buenos
Aires and Santiago.
Darby Overseas invests in companies throughout Latin America via its
private equity fund, and has other
investment vehicles which invest in other emerging markets' assets.