A long standing feud between the partners in Bangkok’s storied Peninsula Hotel seems destined to end with a different management company and most likely a different branded hotel on the property.
A Thai court recently opened the way for the Thai partners of the luxury riverside Peninsula Bangkok to begin the process of terminating the property’s long-standing hotel management contract with the Peninsula group. The court ruled that a serious and material conflict of interest exists in the dual shareholdings of the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, through various affiliated companies, in both the hotel property as well as in the hotel management company, and which enables the Peninsula group to “create a network of connections among their businesses to keep the monetary benefits and the profits exclusively within their group.” [Thonburi Civil Court, Black Case No. PorNor 107/2562]
The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, through an affiliated company, own 50% of the Peninsula Bangkok hotel, and the Phataraprasit family own the other 50%.
Mr. Pradit Phataraprasit, who represents the Phataraprasit family and is the Chief Executive Officer of the Phataraprasit family holding company Winvestment Ltd., said, “During the Peninsula group’s more than 20-year tenure as the hotel management company, they have not been able to return any profit to the hotel’s shareholders.”
“We believe it reasonable that we now ask for their management contract to be terminated, and thereby also resolve a glaring conflict of interest. The court has agreed that it is illegal for the Peninsula group to block our move.”
The Peninsula Bangkok was opened in 1998 directly opposite Bangkok’s legendary Mandarin Oriental hotel, on the Chao Phraya River, and on one of the most valuable riverside properties in Bangkok. The 37-floor, riverside establishment has 370 guestrooms and suites, and four restaurants.
According to Mr. Phataraprasit, terminating the management contract of the Peninsula group through “normal boardroom discussion” was impossible because the Peninsula group is also a 50% shareholder of the hotel with a voting majority on the board.
“They have a dual position as the management company operating the hotel as well as being the controlling shareholder responsible for holding the management company accountable for its performance. They prevent action from being taken against their own management company, and insist that it is not underperforming,” he said.
The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Ltd. has appealed the ruling and says that “despite this difficult market, The Peninsula Bangkok performance has consistently performed well in its competitive set…” Through a statement, the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Ltd. has said that “the hotel’s financial performance has been affected by political uncertainties and a challenging luxury hotel market in Bangkok“, but that the group has “a long-term investment philosophy…”
The Phataraprasit family are owners of one of Thailand’s largest retailing and retail development groups which counts the iconic Siam Paragon among its properties, as well as being owners of the country’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable trading platforms.
So is Bangkok going to lose the Peninsula Hotel? The final appeal isn’t over but it seems likely. Therefore travelers should expect to see a newly branded luxury hotel in Bangkok’s already competitive hotel scene in the months or years ahead.