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NEW YORK CITY-Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, the North American headquarters of which is based here, joined with American Express, Arthur Anderson and Schroder Salomon Smith Barney in hosting the 12th Annual European Hotel Industry Investment Conference in London. Leaders in New York’s hotel industry, and the world’s, gathered to together to talk about the significant role of American investments in Europe and the future of those hotel portfolios. Industry leaders are returning to work here in Manhattan, reflecting on the conference.

Panelists in a session, “Hotel Investment Review” discussed the role of US buyers on the European market. The session speaker, the executive vice president of Europe for Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, Nick Marsh, noted that US buyers are focusing predominantly on hotel properties on the continent, rather than the United Kingdom.

While across the Atlantic their colleagues were contemplating the impact of the NASDAQ, Dow and S&P woes, in London, professionals talked about the links between a lack of quality product in 2000 and the view of the UK as being at the top of a cycle. Marsh said that liquidity increased in 2000, the hotel trading cycle had become more attractive and market growth provided safer “outs” for owners. He also noted that the debt markets are relatively liquid and that there has been a growth in pension funds around Europe.

Marsh observed that in the first nine months of the year, the continent saw an 82% increase in transactional activity. He explained the reasons for this include New York companies riding the high of Wall Street’s bull market earlier this year were looking to diversify and expand their portfolios, increasing transparency, tax reform and the euro dollar. At the conference, 61% of the delegates expected transactional activity to increase in 2001.

Technology’s role was also examined. Rosemary Feenan of Jones Lang LaSalle predicted what 51% of the audience concluded, that new locations will be added to the strategy map thanks to cyberspace. The audience went beyond this prediction, with 63% voting in agreement with Saj Arshad, vice president and head of interactive consumer services at American Express, who said that chains will pop up in the market that are exclusively booked online in three to five years.

The bottom line was that the European market was going to evolve to embrace technology over time and that it was a resilient place to invest money for American companies, many of which are based in New York. These companies, cash-heavy, had been finding the UK market at the top of its game. There was little concern over the economic downturn on Wall Street, and in fact being experienced the world over right now.

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