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[IMGCAP(1)]SAO PAULO, BRAZIL-Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels has merged Hotel Investment Advisors, one of the Brazil’s leading consulting firms, into its operation as its inroad to an emerging market that’s now carrying investment-grade ratings by S&P and Fitch. The 25-year name, a mainstay in Brazil, will go away.

“It was a very comfortable fit on both sides,” says Arthur Adler, managing director and CEO-Americas of Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. Leading the nine-member office will be Ricardo Mader Rodrigues as executive vice president, with his long-time partner, Manuela Gomi, at his side as senior vice president.

With the credit-rating boost, Rodrigues tells GlobeSt.com that Brazil is primed for investment, particularly development in the budget and middle-market arenas. “There are very few opportunities for acquisition,” he explains, adding that with development “you could almost go all over the country with budget and middle market.” Of the country’s 7,000 to 8,000 hotels, he says only 7% are affiliated with hotel brands and the lion’s share are family-owned, including many in Brazil’s gateway cities.

Rodrigues says the hotel market has been increasing rapidly in the past five years. “We know it’s going to grow by double digits in the next five years,” he says.

[IMGCAP(2)]Until now, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels has been working the Brazilian territory from its Miami office. “With the growth of the economy in Latin and South America, Brazil specifically, and the credit rating, now was absolutely the time to enter the market,” Adler says. JLL, the brokerage arm, has 600 professionals on the ground in Brazil.

Adler says the hotel group’s strategy for emerging markets has been to “get in first” before its competitors, almost always using a consulting group to open the door to the marketplace. “We have global clients who want to understand the markets and what the opportunities are,” he adds. “And, many of our global clients–investors and hotel companies, the brand–are actively looking here.”

Adler and Rodrigues worked for the same hotel company in the 1980s, each moving on to build stellar reputations in the industry. “Ricardo is internationally known as is Manuela,” Adler says. With the addition, the hotel group’s strategic advisory and asset management team now totals 80 professionals worldwide, completing its expansion plan for offices in Russia, India, China and Brazil. When the lease expires at Rua Joaquim 7Z CONJ 97, the nine new team members are slated to move into JLL’s Sao Paulo office, according to Adler.

With more than 50 years’ experience, Rodrigues and Gomi were the first in Brazil to provide specialized consulting services for the hotel industry. Their service lines, like JLL Hotels, cover full-life investment cycles from development to exit. The team will continue to work markets in Chile, Argentina and South America, but Rodrigues says the primary focus is Brazil.

“It’s an open country for international investment, with no restrictions or any new laws,” Rodrigues emphasizes. “The economy is very stable and politically, it’s very stable. Now with the credit rate that Brazil got, it’s really open for investors to come.”

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