Under Ashish Jakhanwala, SAMHI Hotels has grown exponentially, even exploring an IPO to raise funds for its fast-growing business. Nine years after Jakhanwala cofounded the business, it has 29 hotels in 14 cities, with a total of 4,315 keys, with brands such as Marriott International, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Hotels Corporation. Much like several new-age hotelier-owners, Jakhanwala believes that the ownership of the hotel and its management should be in two different hands. This way, while one is focussed on augmenting the asset value of the hotels, the other can work on increasing its operational value.
In an earlier interview to a financial newspaper, Jakhanwala had spoken about how SAMHI came into being, “In 2011, I saw that there was no large institutional owner of branded hotels. That’s when the Eureka moment happened. If we can attract global institutional investors, we can create the first large institutional owner of hotels in India. The idea is to invest capital in a brand-agnostic fashion where returns are the highest.” The strategy has paid off, and Jakhanwala, known for his keen market sense, is now set to drive the IPO that hopes to raise INR 1,800 to 2,000 crore from the market by the end of this year. The hospitality acquisition, development and ownership company, which is backed by marquee investors such as Goldman Sachs and Piramal Capital & Housing Finance Ltd., has raised a considerable amount of funding over the years.
The strategy is simple: acquire hotels that aren’t in their healthiest state and require extensive intervention in terms of improving capital structure, product re configuration and rebranding, and drive the performance in partnership with the operator. A consummate data man, Jakhanwala relies on acquiring and analysing market data to his advantage. Over the years, SAMHI has launched several international brands in India, among them Fairfield by Marriott, a brand that existed only in North America and the rebranded Holiday Inn Express Hotels in key Indian markets. Jakhanwala has announced an investment of INR 100 crores to renovate 10 hotels as world-class products.