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Morgan Stanley buys 13 Japanese hotels

The  U.S. investment bank has roughly doubled it’s portfolio of Japanese hotels by buying 13 hotels from carrier All Nippon Airways Co. for 281 billion yen (US$2.4 billion; EUR1.8 billion).

The purchase, to be completed June 1, includes high-end hotels in Tokyo, the resort island of Okinawa as well as northern and southern Japan, ANA said in a statement.

Morgan Stanley, one of the first investors to begin buying Japanese properties, already has interests in 14 hotels in Japan.

"This transaction highlights Morgan Stanley's continued long-term commitment to investing in Japan and optimistic outlook for the nation's economy and hotel industry," Morgan Stanley said in a news release.

For ANA, Japan's second largest airline by revenue after Japan Airlines Corp., the move is in line with its strategy to focus on core passenger and cargo flight operations.

ANA is trying to strengthen its competitive edge ahead of an expansion and new runway at Tokyo's Haneda Airport slated for 2010.

ANA said the sale will raise its profits for the financial year ending March 2008, but it's still unclear how much that would be. The value of the hotel assets totaled 150 billion yen (US$1.3 billion; EUR970 million ) as of March 31, 2006, it said.

The airline had been considering selling its hotel assets and outsourced hotel management to its joint venture with Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC, which will continue to run 30 hotels in Japan, including the 13 in Friday's sale, ANA said.

Japan Airlines has also been unloading its hotels, selling five this year, including ones in Okinawa and Tokyo. The only hotels it still owns are in Saipan and London.

ANA shares, which have fluctuated over the past year, gained nearly 1 percent to 475 yen (US$4; EUR3) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Land prices in the world's second-largest economy are gradually beginning to recover from the decadelong stagnation that followed a property bubble burst in the early 1990s.

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