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PARIS, June 30 (Reuters) - AccorHotels is in "extremely active" talks to sell part of the capital of its property unit HotelInvest to investors and hopes to seal a deal by autumn or the end of the year, its chief executive said on Friday.
The plan is aimed at giving AccorHotels, Europe's largest hotel group, greater financial leeway to speed up growth and better fight the rising challenges of companies such as Airbnb or online travel agents such as Expedia, Sebastien Bazin told an extraordinary shareholders meeting.
AccorHotels, which operates high-end chains such as Raffles and Sofitel as well as budget brands such as Ibis, initially expected to reach a deal by the end of the first-half 2017.
At the meeting, shareholders overwhelmingly approved plans to turn the HotelInvest property business, worth 6.6 billion euros, into a separate entity to be known as AccorInvest prior to selling part of its capital to institutional investors.
Bazin said he was confident AccorInvest, which has some 960 hotels in 26 countries and employs 40,000 people, could be worth more than 10 billion euros in the longer-term.
AccorHotels, which runs more than 4,000 hotels worldwide, has been cutting costs, expanding in the luxury end of the market and investing in new areas such as concierge services. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, editing by Michel Rose)