Here are five things to know about the sale of Carlson's hotel business to HNA Tourism Group of Beijing:
1) Carlson has been exploring opportunities since at least January.
Reports surfaced that month that the company hired Morgan Stanley to assist it with strategic alternatives.
2) The global hotel business has been consolidating.
The trend was most recently highlighted in the bidding war for Starwood Hotels between Marriott International and Anbang, a Chinese conglomerate principally known for its insurance business. Marriott earlier this month won the battle by making a $14.4 billion deal. Other recent mergers in the industry include AccorHotel's acquisition of FRHI Holdings Ltd., owner of Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel.
3) HNA is a fast mover.
The company started in the early 1990s and built a portfolio of travel and tourism businesses around the world. It runs Hainan Airlines, one of the biggest regional airlines in China. Its tourism unit, founded in 2007 and based in Beijing, has been actively acquiring firms recently. Two weeks ago, it agreed to buy International Currency Exchange, a London-based operator of currency exchange booths in airports around the world. And it has offered plenty of bids for others.
4) The Carlson hotel business will stay a Minnesota-based operation.
Though it will have a new parent company, the business will remain based in Minnetonka and its chief executive, David Berg, will remain in charge.
5) The Carlson family, one of the wealthiest in the state, will remain active in business in Minnesota.
In a letter that Carlson family members wrote to the company's employees on Wednesday, they said they are often asked if they are stepping away from business."It’s a reasonable question, and the answer is `No,'" the family members wrote.
They added: "Our vision and our values dictate that we should never simply be a collection of investors. We believe in free enterprise, and that we should ensure Carlson is always an active participant in it and the good it can do. We are committed to operating businesses, and in particular the #1 managed travel business in the world in CWT as our acquisition of JP Morgan’s minority share shows. We are also committed to growing other businesses that will strengthen the overall Carlson platform, and are excited about the opportunities we have to redeploy the capital from this transaction. We will continue to invest deeply in the Carlson Family Foundation, sponsor the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota, and be a global leader in the cause to end human trafficking worldwide. We are most definitely not stepping away from the practice of business, or the good it can create in Minnesota and around the world."