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Edited Transcript of AC.PA earnings conference call or presentation 31-Jul-19 4:30pm GMT

Half Year 2019 Accor SA Earnings Call

Cedex Aug 6, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Accor SA earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at 4:30:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Jean-Jacques Morin

Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Alex Brignall

Redburn (Europe) Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Geoffrey d'Halluin

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director & Research Analyst

* Jaafar Mestari

Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division - Analyst

* Jamie David William Rollo

Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD

* Jarrod Castle

UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - MD, Head of the Travel & Leisure Sector and Co-Head of the Global Transport Sector Team

* Monique Pollard

Citigroup Inc, Research Division - VP

* Richard J. Clarke

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division - Research Analyst

* Sabrina Blanc

Societe Generale Cross Asset Research - Equity Analyst

* Thomas Edward Beevers

Stockviews, Ltd. - Co-Founder and CEO

* Victoria Jane Lee Stern

Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - MD & Equity Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Accor Hotel Conference Call. I now hand over to Mr. Jean-Jacques Morin, Deputy CEO. Sir, please go ahead.

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [2]

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Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for being with us this evening to review our H1 2019 results. Before we go through the performance of H1, let me highlight 2 items that shape the financials.

First off, the progress on the disposal of Orbis. As we are well advanced on that process, the result of the subsidiary are now insulated under discontinued operation in accordance with IFRS 5 accounting standards.

The second thing is the implementation of IFRS 16 accounting standard. This implies that there is no more distinction between operating and finance leases, and fixed rents are now accounted below EBITDA.

We disclosed on IFRS 16 pro forma account last June, and they're available on our website. They're also enclosed for your reference in the appendix to this presentation.

Now that we have cleared up these 2 items, let me move to business. And we go to Page 3, where we have a snapshot of the H1 2019 key achievements.

Let's start with left column, which is business momentum. As stated, last April, we expected RevPAR growth of 3% over full year of 2019. RevPAR did improve across all regions in Q2, which hold a figure of H1 to a number of 2.9% RevPAR growth, like-for-like.

The net organic system growth stands at 5.2% above the last 12 months, i.e. above the 5% guidance we provided at last November Capital Market Day.

Last but not least, business volume reached the EUR 10 billion mark over the semester. It was EUR 9 billion in H1 2018, as a reference.

Moving now to the numbers themselves, the financial performance. The revenue reached EUR 1.9 billion i.e. a 4.8%, like-for-like, increase.

EBITDA reached EUR 375 million i.e. 5.1% like-for-like increase. And the cash conversion was at 76%, above our guidance of 70%.

Moving to the last block, which is not the least important, we pursued swiftly the delivery of a strategical map and the simplification of the model. And notably, through the disposal of Orbis with material progress in the divestment process, as I was just mentioning. The integration of Mantra and Mövenpick acquisition, as they were acquired you may recall in May and September last year, and the launch of the marketing plan announced last February, including the setup of all the Accor Live Limitless platform.

I'm moving now to the second page, which is slide about our network and pipeline by region. We are on track to reach 5,000 hotels network by the end of the year. Organic expansion continued to expand the footprint in the Asia-Pacific. I look at Asia-Pacific, which accounts for 31% of the portfolio and 50% of the pipeline.

And I'll give you a little bit more details and colors on the Page 5 on those openings. So on that page, we had highlight of CMD of strategic interest to identify presence in our core gateways, and that's the last part of the table, as you see it.

The pictures are some expression of it in markets such as: Dubai, which is the third largest city for Accor; Bangkok, which is the fourth largest city for Accor; Jakarta, #7; and Melbourne, #11.

Overall, we opened 19 K-Homes organically. As usual, most -- sorry, as of this growth occurs in Asia-Pacific, and luxury was 22% of the home openings.

We should see some further acceleration of that in financial year '18 to end up being above 30%.

The reason for why I like this is that it really conflict the tradition of luxury stepped up strategy because you show up to do the same statistics in 2015, you would be at 17%. And we're going to end up the year at 30%.

Our pipeline for H2 is strong and points to new record organic growth, hence we confirm our 5% net system organic growth for the full year on the networking.

I'm moving now to the revenue. I'm moving to the RevPAR on Page 6. As stated last year, we expect RevPAR of 3% for the year. RevPAR did improve across all region in Q2 and that holds a figure of 2.9% for the semester with a RevPAR, which is 40% occupancy, 60% price-driven.

If you break it down by region. For Europe and Asia-Pacific, which is about 80% of what we do. I'll show you a more detailed chart on the next page.

So I'll cover regions -- the other regions North America, RevPAR turned positive in Q2 to the tune of 3.1%, which brings the semester to a number of 0.8%. As you may recall, that the RevPAR in Q1 was impacted by Q1 of -- in larger hotels.

Middle East and Africa, RevPAR growth also recovered with a 2.5% in Q2 to close to 1% over H1. The region notably benefited from the strong performance in Canada and to be quotable is the fact that we really do outperform our peers in this region when you take the revenue generation index, the RGI as a base.

In South America, revenue was up 13.8% over H1 and continued to accelerate through a successful pricing strategy, notably, in São Paulo. But also occupancy, as you saw Copa America football championship in Brazil in June.

Breaking it down by segments, you would see that all segments report good performance, each of them.

I'm moving now to Page 7. On Page 7 that's why we have the detail for Europe and Asia-Pacific. Europe is globally seeing RevPAR over Q2 of 5.1%, which brings the semester to a very good number of 4.4%.

If you go and divide by country, you'll see that France posted 12.7% RevPAR in H1. Very good performance in Paris, very good performance in Florence, and the growth was also supported by good events like the Paris Air Show and the Women's Soccer World Cup in June.

Germany with a strong 3.9%. The U.K. was 1.2% RevPAR growth in H1, and then you have a very unbalanced situation between London, which is good for 0.3% and the province, which is a negative minus 2.1%.

And as you most probably had seen the levels of confidence in the U.K. has deteriorated to the weakest levels since 2012, so we need to see our fees develop in the U.K. in the coming months.

Moving to Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe has been doing great over the last year. It continues to do great with a 5.1% RevPAR in H1 and very good pricing strategy in many places, many countries, not only Poland, but also Hungary and Czech Republic. Spain posted double-digit RevPAR at close to 12% with strong demand and a good calendar.

If now I move to the other key region, which is Asia-Pacific. There we have the RevPAR, which was slightly positive of the trend that started negative in Q1, which drives the quarter to be a small negative of minus 0.2%. We expect this marginal positive growth to carry over H2.

Now 2 key elements that I would like to cover in the Asia-Pacific performance. One is Australia, which posted a negative minus 0.5% -- minus 0.5% RevPAR in H1. Performance effects the same elements that we had discussed in Q1 i.e. some of the supply, political election and stability and overall low economy confidence. The Q1 GDP has been the lowest in the decade in the in Australia, as you may have read in the slides.

The other thing I'd like to say there is that, as I -- was I reading to when we discussed Middle East and Africa, we really do outperform the market as we are the clear leader of Australia hotel industry.

I'll move now to the other key transition point, which is Greater China, where we saw a negative RevPAR of minus 1.3% in H1. This is stemming from the trade war between -- with the U.S, which we've seen the results, as we all know. And it does trigger the fact that China has reached the lowest point of GDP growth in the last 27 years. And so you have some effect in China, but also some effect South Asia coming from that situation in China. That's on RevPAR.

If we now move to the revenue, so the top line of the P&L. And I am on Slide 8, and I'll detail what's happening by segment.

But before talking about each segment, the revenue reached a level which is very close to EUR 2 billion at EUR 1.926 million i.e. 4.8% like-for-like growth.

The reported growth was much bigger and that's due, as you well know, to the acquisition of Mantra and Mövenpick, very limited foreign exchange effect.

As for Hotel Services, the revenue was up 5% on a like-for-like basis. This was on the back of the 2.9% RevPAR goals that I mentioned before. And it translates into 11% goals on a reported basis. I will tell anyway, hotel services, M&F in the coming pages.

If we go to the second segment, which is Hotel Assets and other. Revenue was up 7.1% on the like-for-like basis with good RevPAR goals in that segment. You recall that Orbis is not anymore in that Hotel Assets reporting as it is in discontinued operations.

So as the performance is now driven in this semester by Brazil, so Brazil has been significantly up. The #1 RevPAR. But there is as an offset, the weaker figure in Australia where the market is tough, as we again just discussed. So that's the 2 key elements in order to understand the variation on the revenue.

As for New Businesses, the revenue was up 4.5% consolidated to 10% on a reported basis, and then I'll get back to new businesses in a few seconds. Orbis and Gekko, essentially, it reflects integration on Mantra and Mövenpick.

So if we he move to Page 9, and that's why I go into more detail on management and franchise revenue from the Hotel Service segment. This includes based in market incentive, and few additional services. The H1 number ends up being at EUR 486 million, i.e. of 5% like-for-like increase.

What I would like to highlight here before we go into the region, it is the segment view. And you see here, again, another illustration of what I was saying on the change of mix in the whole planned execution of that strategic direction because luxury and upscale now represent 40% of the total, which used to be 22%, as you can see from the chart in H1 2015.

On a per region basis. In Europe, management and franchise posted a solid 5.7 like-for-like growth, which translate the RevPAR that went with just a few seconds before and the organic system growth of over the last 12 months.

In Asia-Pacific, management and franchise revenue was flat, so RevPAR was close to 0, as we saw. But there was a good net system growth, which is a 5.2% [issuance to] Huazhu. Huazhu was -- the effect on revenue is limited. The offset to that is the fact that we had some lounge renovation, and notably, in Singapore. And so there is a decrease versus last year on entrances.

If you move to Middle East and Africa, the revenue posted a satisfactory 4.6% like-for-like growth, RevPAR of 1%, and then we had a great Ramadan season, and we were -- we got very significant incentive for performance.

In North America, the revenue posted 7.2% like-for-like growth. The RevPAR was limited as 0.8% as we saw. But you saw there the effect of the ramp up on specific locations, and notably, the Fairmont Austin.

In South America, the M&F is at at the level of 16%, which showed -- which is very much well in line with, kind of, RevPAR that we disclosed on Latin America at 13.8%.

Now just a short review on New Businesses. And the New Businesses, the key messaging here is that turnaround in progress. I mentioned the revenue that grew 4.5%, but the important part is that if you look at the EBITDA, you would see that the EBITDA is now very close to breakeven. We used to be at minus 11 in the same period last year. And this is in fact a result of the turnaround that was launched, and notably, some termination on unprofitable growth.

So you have onefinestay and John Paul which I'll get you turnaround. D-EDGE, Gekko, Verychic Resdiary who post double-digit revenue growth on good profitability, good being double-digit.

I'm moving now to page 11. On Page 11, we talk about the Hotel Assets and other portion of the business. I explain the like-for-like revenue some minutes ago. The other activity accounts for EUR 184 million, and grew by 1%. What is in this other activity is essentially Asia-Pacific activities. So notably Mantra, Strata. So the Strata plus Mantra, in addition to Timeshare and Accorplus.

Moving now to the next page, which is Page 12, where we look at the EBITDA generation by segment, so the group EBITDA was at 5.1% on a comparable basis. The reported was at 30%, but again, it's going to be the same explanation throughout all this presentation, which is -- it is the ramp up of -- Mövenpick and Mantra through H1 2019.

If you look at Hotel Services itself, the like-for-like EBITDA growth was 3.7%, and it was impacted by the service to owner due to some cost savings that you may recall. We had a very good last year cost savings on service to owner and notably because of the slow ramp up of some of the marketing action, and then slow ramp up of some of the impact programs, and so we have a base here, which is unfavorable.

On the core M&F, as I will be telling you in the next slide. The growth is 7.1%, so a very good number. Service EBITDA -- Hotel Services EBITDA includes EUR 10 million for the marketing plan that we had announced in February.

So regarding Hotel Assets, 0.2% like-for-like growth, which is explained essentially by Mantra and the difficult Australian market that we alluded to before. And the 241% EBITDA reported growth since its acquisition, so it's Mantra and Mövenpick. Regarding New Businesses, I mentioned that we are close to breakeven and so I am upbeat to confirm our breakeven target for Q4 2019 of EBITDA.

I am moving out to the M&F EBITDA analysis by region. So overall, we are at 7.1% and I'm on Slide 13. In Europe, the EBITDA grew by 7.9%, which is faster than the revenue and this is helped by the right-sizing program that we discussed during the previous announcement. In Asia-Pacific, the EBITDA grew by 3.2% with flat revenue and this is demonstrating the capability that the business has to control cost while activities slowdown again and again. In EMEA, the EBITDA is down by 5%, despite revenue growth of 5%. So here, the effect is essentially a base effect by which we had good news last year on receivable collections that we don't have this year.

In NCAC, we have exactly the opposite situation, i.e. the EBITDA grow by 17%, 18% whereas the revenue is only growing by 7%, and this is coming from the bad debt reversal in some of hotels, so some collections of receivables.

I'm moving to now what is below EBITDA and making the bridge between EBITDA to net profit. I am on Slide 14.

So the first 4 points that need to be highlighted: One is D&A, depreciation and amortization, which increases significantly with the acquisition of Mantra and Mövenpick.

So in H1 2018, D&A was only including 1 month of Mantra because, you may recall, we purchased Mantra at the end of May last year. And Mövenpick was purchased over H2, so it was not in the actual of 2018.

And so you've got the base effect and on top of base effect, you've got the challenging accounting of IFRS 16, and so the 2 effect combined explain the increase from EUR 82 million in H1 2018 to EUR 141 million in H1 2019.

The second negative -- the second thing I'd like to add, sorry, is the negative share of net profit from associate and joint venture. It results from 3 things. I mean, number one, in that plan you've got Huazhu and as the performance in China is tougher, Huazhu reported negative RevPAR. In Q2, you've got the decrease year-on-year of this contribution.

The second element is AccorInvest, and it's coming from the fact that AccorInvest is now an independent company, which is -- which has got a much higher financing cost than what it used to have when it was part of the Accor Group, as it is balancing itself externally.

And the last one is coming from sbe where we have restructuring of the balance sheet ongoing. And some asset disposal are still in progress and our net income, which is affected by that sale that did not yet occur.

The certain amount that I'd like to highlight is income tax. While you see that we're back to a normalized level, [we've gotten right] to the tune of 23% over H1, which is very good. Last year was affected by changing those on dividend, as you may recall.

Fourth is the profit from discontinued while you see a significant drop. But last year, it was, in fact, essentially the EUR 2.4 billion of capital gain recognized following the sale of AccorInvest, which we had computed in May 2018.

So let's move from EBITDA to net income and move now to element of cash. I go to the Slide 15.

On the Slide 15, few highlights. The first one is that now that we've got IFRS 16, we introduced a line, which is called reimbursement of lease liability to show the effect on recurring free cash flow of the lease cash payment, just to be following EBITDA.

Second is that we've got noncash items and other, which increases significantly from EUR 5 million to EUR 54 million and this is coming from the AccorInvest dividend that we collected. So we have dividend coming from AccorInvest, as it is now a sale. And you see that here.

The third element is the recurring CapEx, where we reach a level of EUR 75 million. So you may recall that H1 is always less capital-intensive than H2. We provided a guidance of EUR 200 million to EUR 250 million at the Capital Market day, which was including Orbis. We now exclude Orbis as it is discontinued operation, and we expect the CapEx for the full year to be to the tune -- to be around EUR 200 million.

The fourth element is negative EUR 74 million working capital change. Working capital change. We have a working capital, which is very seasonal in nature, notably, because we do not have very strong months of activity, and so you would see that every year in our account.

On top of that, this year, we had an unfavorable base effect from H1 '18, and notably, because there was some tax flow changes that created some favorable basis last year, and then unfavorable basis this year. So that adds up. But the most important thing here is that we do expect working capital to be close to neutral by year-end, as we told you to the previous year.

Finally, the sum of all of that is the recurring free cash flow reaches around EUR 144 million, which is a 76% cash conversion as highlighted before.

I'm moving now to the net debt. Net debt is quite simple. I mean it is essentially IFRS 16 that explains the increase of the net debt from December 2018 to December 2019. As a reminder, this doesn't change the way a rating agency looks at Accor, as they were already doing some retreatment of pieces before IFRS 16.

I move to the conclusion, conclusion table. On the conclusion table. So 3 things or 4 things, I should say. Three things, which is the RevPAR. That's reconfirmed at 3% for the full year; the 5% net system growth that we confirm for the full year also. The reconfirmation that we have in that process of focusing on value creations for successful delivery of asset-light roadmap, [Ibis,] Mantra and Mövenpick integration of acquisition and the launch of marketing and our platform, the Accor Live Limitless platform. And on the basis of all what I've been explaining, we are estimating that for the fiscal year 2018, our EBITDA will be in the range of EUR 820 million to EUR 850 million.

So that concludes what I wanted to highlight for our numbers for H1. And now the floor is yours.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) We have the first question from Jamie Rollo from Morgan Stanley.

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Jamie David William Rollo, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [2]

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Three questions please. But I'll ask them separately.

First, just on the EBITDA guidance, why is it so wide? And what would it have been on the old accounting basis? In other words, what's the extra IFRS 16 EBITDA benefit for this year?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [3]

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Okay. So why is it so wide? We've always giving -- we've always been giving our thought, which is about still sub-3 million in history. So in fact, Jamie, on this one, we basically don't change the way we do this modeling.

And then on the IFRS 16, I mean, you have that in the pro forma which was we provided to you.

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Jamie David William Rollo, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [4]

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[But I was wondering if ever...]

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [5]

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Sorry? Go ahead.

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Jamie David William Rollo, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [6]

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So I was just going to say, I think, the pro forma was just the last year's adjustments, there's, obviously, an extra impact as you annualize last year's acquisitions?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [7]

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Yes. I mean the number you can use is [140].

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Jamie David William Rollo, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [8]

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Okay. And then just on Slide 23, you've given us the Q2 revenue breakdown. A couple of questions that the total 1.3% like-for-like looks low, given Hotel Services and Hotel Assets were both up 3% to 4%. And also Hotel Services itself looks very low, up 3% versus the RevPAR number. So the opposite of first quarter. Could you explain that please?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [9]

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Which page are you on, sorry, Jamie?

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Jamie David William Rollo, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [10]

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Slide 23, it's the Q2 revenue growth up 1.3%, that slide.

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [11]

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Yes, yes, okay. The thing that you've seen in the explanation I provided on the revenue and revenue growth is that quarter-on-quarter, there's a bunch of things at that panel that explains impact variation.

So in this quarter, I mean, EBITDA, things like some instances that we didn't get in Asia-Pacific. There are things just like some special services that we're able to bring in given period, and not in other period. There are things like the Accor that we do over periods, which may not be exactly the same so. Quarter-on-quarter, we always have variation.

I think the important thing there is for us to show you and to deliver the growth on revenue that we have been discussing in the Capital Market Day, and the revenue and the growth, sorry, on the EBITDA that we've also been narrating in the Capital Market Day. And so I would strongly advise that on the quarter-to-quarter basis, similar situation because of things happening.

And I -- you saw in the explanation I provided on EBITDA that depending on the fact that you are able to recover receivable or not able to recover receivable, it changes your way then. Since these are small numbers, that make immediately a significant situation. So I would not put too much emphasis on that. And I will look at the global year, and in the global year we will be in the parameter of what we provided in the Capital Market day.

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Jamie David William Rollo, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [12]

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But just mathematically, that 1.3% for the group, I don't understand why it is so low when the 2 biggest divisions are up 3% to 4%. Am I missing something?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [13]

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No, no. Just -- as I said, some incentives, some shift that are not the same period-on-period and some collection at that time. Nothing really that is something that we should go in detail.

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Jamie David William Rollo, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [14]

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Okay. And then finally, hotel assets sort of doubled in terms of their EBITDA contribution. Do you have any plans that to exit those businesses? And I think you also mentioned sbe and disposals?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [15]

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Yes. It's a good point. We -- I talked about what I call in the conclusion, the asset-light roadmap. I think what we want to do, what we have said that we would do, and that's what we will do, is that we will make the model pure, i.e. we want to be a pure play with sbes group. When we do those acquisition, as you know they came with some assets. And so now we're working on both Orbis, but also on Mantra and Mövenpick and basically getting rid of the leases.

So Mantra and Mövenpick, we're working on the lease portfolio. And on Orbis, as you saw, we're doing a so-called vis-à-vis type of transaction, by which we only keep the management and franchise business back. And so that's what I want to highlight in the so-called headline asset-light roadmap for [AG].

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Operator [16]

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The next question comes from Jarrod Castle from UBS.

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Jarrod Castle, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - MD, Head of the Travel & Leisure Sector and Co-Head of the Global Transport Sector Team [17]

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Three as well please. I'll also ask one at a time.

In 2H, you're guiding for basically 3% RevPAR. Can you give any color in terms of how you see potentially the development in Q3 and Q4, and some summer bookings at the moment?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [18]

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Yes. On the outlook, I think, as you saw the number, Europe has been very good moving forward. Because they are doing extremely well. And there is no reason here for why is it to change and that's what we see in all the elements that we've got on business coming in.

And so I think that's 1 key driver because as you know when you do the composition of the RevPAR, 50% of the absolute number is coming from the contribution from Europe. So France will be good, the -- sorry, Germany will be also good based on the fare calendar.

Eastern Europe, as mentioned as being good, will continue to be good. The one question that you may ask is the U.K. because nobody knows where the U.K. is going to go. But in the U.K. we have a very good performance in London and the portion which, I think, is more at risk is the portion which is in the province. So that's on Europe.

I think, Middle East and Africa, we have a positive dynamic here. We have some now good pricing strategies. And I think this should continue also. South America, the dynamic is now on many, many quarters, and there's no reason for why it would stop. And North America, I think, they're really performing, and we don't see that changing.

The last region that I did not quoted is Asia-Pacific. On Asia-Pacific, you have 2 different situation. I think, Australia is probably at a trough now. And since we have the election, which are behind us with some actions have been taken by the government in order to basically boost interest -- boost the economy, so an interest reduction. I think you will see that the economy are stuck to a rebound from the very low point of Q1, Q2.

The question mark is the rest of Asia, and notably, China. It's in fact, the trade war between the U.S. and China and how these things evolve.

We have taken an assumption that things will kind of stabilize and slightly improve, which is why I made the comment on what's happening on the RevPAR of Asia-Pacific has been marginally improving.

Obviously, if this was totally going in the opposite direction, this may change this number, but this is not our assumption. And this is not what we see on the ground.

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Jarrod Castle, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - MD, Head of the Travel & Leisure Sector and Co-Head of the Global Transport Sector Team [19]

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Okay. Second question. Any comments on when you see the buybacks being undertaken?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [20]

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Yes. On the buyback, I think, we are very much in the parameter of what we've been saying. We said that we would do a program within 2 years. We said that this was launched in -- so, it was launched in July last year at about the same time. We've done 75% of what the program is.

At this time, what I would say is that is our focus is the asset-light roadmap.

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Jarrod Castle, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - MD, Head of the Travel & Leisure Sector and Co-Head of the Global Transport Sector Team [21]

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And then, lastly, any kind of comments about the Air France Accor deal in terms of loyalty points when working places together. How that's going?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [22]

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I think, this is proving to everybody that we can work very well with our friends at Air France. So I'm very happy that we're able -- now that there is a new leadership team we will go to get good discussion. And this is going exactly in the direction of all what we want to do as part of the ALL platform and increase loyalty stickiness. So this is exactly the kind of things that you should see us do more in the future. It is now only starting, but it is moving exactly in the direction that we want it to.

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Operator [23]

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The next question comes from Vicky Stern from Barclays.

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Victoria Jane Lee Stern, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - MD & Equity Analyst [24]

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Three questions for me. And just sort of going back on that previous question around the asset-light roadmap and cash return commentary. So should we -- how do we think about your best by the year stage of how you'd be likely to use the proceeds whether it's actual cash or net debt reduction that might come through back end of this year and into next year? Is it right to assume that they should come back in terms of cash returns?

And secondly, just an update on the cost-cutting program. And just a reminder of the phasing advantage that still. Is that still something is coming through for next year?

And just a few questions around full year guidance. So the lower tax rate of 23%, is that something we should think about for the full year? And if you can also give us a sense on then what depreciation and associates might look like for the full year, given that the [spring, we'll have] IFRS 16 and the commentary made on the associate income?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [25]

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Yes. So on the cash return, I think our assumption is propriety, i.e. I would say it my own terms. When the cash will be available, we will do the analysis between doing some M&A and doing some cash return to our shareholder, just like we usually do. And thus -- as the stock is going up I mean, makes, in fact, the share buyback today little less interesting option that you choose when we were at 32 a couple of weeks ago. So I think, again, here, it would be an arbitrage on value creation.

On your question on effective tax rate, the 23%. Yes, you can use that as a base effective tax rate. We'll always said that we would be in the ballpark of 25%. So 25%, 23% is most definitely a very good number in terms of effective tax rate.

In terms of D&A and D&A forecasting, I think you now have the good base with the H1 number because the H1 number gives us the full amount of the acquisition. They have been constant in both of them for 6 months. And they are -- all of them also under the new IFRS 16, so making a very simple math of the liabilities is not a bad one.

And what else did you have? You had another question, Vicky.

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Victoria Jane Lee Stern, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - MD & Equity Analyst [26]

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Yes. The associate income?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [27]

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Yes, the associate income. On the associate income -- I mean what you see on that AccorInvest will not change, except for performance, right? So the H1 number in that business just like it is in our business is always an absolute lower number, that's what you're able to derive in H2. That's always been like that.

So we are seeing improvements in the base number, but the fundamental increase at the bottom line of AccorInvest coming from France and costs is -- will remain, obviously, to the point that we're able to deliver.

In terms of Huazhu, it will depend on the performance of Huazhu, so well it would go back on my comment on what's happening on with China and U.S. trade war. In fact, Huazhu, in absolute term is doing better than the Chinese market. But the Chinese market is not as supportive as it used to be.

Everything is relative in that sense. We still have GDP also, which is not sub-6%, but in relative term, they are doing -- they're having a tougher market in term of consumption. And on sbe, we are really working out on this balance sheet and asset sale. And so I think, we should have some resolution on that in the coming months.

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Operator [28]

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The next question comes from Monique Pollard from Citi.

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Monique Pollard, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - VP [29]

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Three questions from me, please. On the new business profitabilities, you said big improvement in the EBITDA year-on-year, can you give some color on specific steps you've taken to improve the profitability of that segment in the first half?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [30]

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Sure. So on the New Businesses what we've done is that we look at the portfolio of what we have, and we've been basically curtailing things that were not profitable. So it's a valid portfolio pulling activity that was one step of what we did.

Then the other thing that we've done instead we've been refocusing the way we expand internationally to places where we were sure that we would get short-term return, but there's always this idea that you can go everywhere and develop the concept. But there are places into which it is easier to get a return than in other places. And so we've also on this one curtail some of the development plan in order to focus on the one that were bringing return.

And the last, but not the least, is we also worked on some of the structure of those entities. There is not the same discipline necessarily in the small entities than in small corporation, that what you may have, in a larger corporation.

And there's also some synergy that you can find between the group structures and some of these New Businesses structures. So it's a combination of those things that we've been doing and have been behind in the return that you see on the numbers.

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Monique Pollard, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - VP [31]

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Okay. Great. And then coming back to China and Huazhu, which are the best to outperform in the market.

Could you give some what their plans are for the Accor brands in China this year and whether they are going to continue the same pace of rooms growth?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [32]

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Yes. I mean Huazhu have been doing extremely well in terms of developing our brand. I mean they -- just to give you a number, they have been opening, since we closed a deal with them, 180 hotels. So it's a very large number of hotels that we opened, not signed, opened. Signing is now to the tune of 400.

So I think they've had a very good success, great success at basically building on the brands to develop their network. So I don't think you will see that really changing because there is a strong demand on those brands. It will be potentially a little bit affected by the overall demand in China.

But development, as you know, is always a little bit distinct from pure financial performance in the given period. It's not the same time line that you're discussing here. So we don't see, at this stage, any slowdown in terms of the development of our brand in China.

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Monique Pollard, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - VP [33]

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Okay. Great. And then, the final question was just relating to your marketing and loyalty program around Accor Live Limitless. So of your 4-year planned investment of EUR 225 million, just wondering, how much has been spent in the first half and what the, sort of, initial signs you're seeing particularly on the brand investment are?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [34]

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Yes. We told you that we would be to the tune of EUR 55 million in this first year, and we stand about EUR 10 million. I think, I mentioned that number earlier, EUR 10 million in H1. And so the overall number of EUR 50 million, EUR 55 million is a good proxy of what I think we'll have end of the year. So that's where we are.

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Monique Pollard, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - VP [35]

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Great. And any initial signs in terms checking out the brand investment that you were doing on ibis, I think was the first one to start it, and then Novotel...

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [36]

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Yes. What you may see is that there is marketing campaigns that have been launched in order to promote some of the brands, and there is a quite a lot of activities going on, on our networks, on social networks, on TV, on radio, for brands, like ibis, Novotel, these kind of things. That is something that you see, and this is part of the cost, the EUR 10 million, that I mentioned.

Some of the other elements, we'd love to take more time, I mean, well, building the loyalty application, we're developing those contract with people with who we can do co-branded card. And we were discussing Air France briefly before, so that's an example of some of the elements, but it will take some time before you see those turning into real practical things.

And that's why we always said that the launch will be at the end of this year. Also the old loyalty platform. And that's also why, Monique, you've got mostly expenses in the first and in the second year with only the return popping out in the third and in the fourth year.

So that's what I would say at the junction, but we will most definitely provide you as we progress with some elements on our work progressing and how we see some of the physical KPI improving.

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Operator [37]

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The next question comes from Jaafar Mestari of BNP Paribas.

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Jaafar Mestari, Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division - Analyst [38]

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Two questions, please. The first one is a follow-up on the loyalty investments. When I saw the number for the services owners, I just assumed that was the main driver. But you just mentioned only EUR 10 million spent in H1, so could you go maybe through the bridge there since its owners H1 '18 was EUR 15 million of the EBITDA is now minus EUR 9 million and EBITDA loss, and only EUR 10 million is the reinvestments. What else is there, please?

And then separately on new services, is this going to be a linear trajectory from here? Last year, the H1 and H2 losses were pretty much the same. So should we go for breakevens for the full year, and then profits into full year '20?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [39]

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On the STO, you're right, Jaafar. The point there is that you may recall that last year, we had a very -- a phasing that was a very favorable in the way we expanded some of the cost. And notably, because on the marketing, we had a new Head of Marketing that just joined the company, Steven Taylor, the guy has been the thinker of behind some of the MIT program. And so the time that he started, some of the plans were not really launched at the beginning of the year and so we got his point of view on things.

And then the other element in H2 that was of significance last year, is the [what] impact program from [the Medallia]. Well, again, here, there was some phasing.

So in fact, when you compare the numbers, you're not really comparing it on a basis between the 2 -- the 2 semesters, if you will. So the one thing that you will see is that you should take off is STO. If you should take MIT, you should find an STO, which is a breakeven. It's a phasing. Long explanation to, say, that it's a phasing.

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Jaafar Mestari, Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division - Analyst [40]

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Maybe just follow up on that. So you're saying, that the STO, EBITDA in full year '18 was 57 and what you're saying is it should have been lower?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [41]

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No, no, no. I'm not expressing myself. What is at breakeven is after CapEx because your part of what you spent for your [man hours], which is CapEx. So the way you should look at it is that you get positive EBITDA level and then you have some CapEx that you are using in order to, again, push some of those distribution, loyalty and activity. And so the breakeven is at NOI level. Sorry if I confused you. Are you clear?

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Jaafar Mestari, Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division - Analyst [42]

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Yes, it's clear. And I guess H2 looks like it will be down significantly year-on-year in terms of EBITDA because of the comps base and because you're going to have biggest part of the EUR 55 million in investments in H2.

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [43]

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Yes -- and here the way to maybe give you some comfort and now we give the guidance and how all of that would compare. If you take the guidance and take from that the MIT and you should compare the H1 to the H2, you are back to what has been foreseeing in previous periods, i.e. an EBITDA which is 45% generated in H1, 55% generated in H2. So that's kind of the rule of thumb in order to see whether that jives. And so that's what you would find if you do the math.

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Jaafar Mestari, Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division - Analyst [44]

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Okay, thanks, that's clear. And then last one is just on new services, is there any reasons to expect the...

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [45]

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Yes, on new services there is some seasonality. There's some seasonality, there's a bit of seasonality, and notably, on activity just like conference day because of the summer season. So it's not totally linear, Jaafar. So you can't really make the basic x2. But since I don't furnish you with anything better, you can always choose that as a basis.

But I would say that if you look at the phasing and if you were to look at the phasing business by business, there is some seasonality. So then the question becomes, which are the business which are growing than the other ones? And how does it affect the total number? But I don't want to enter into that and give you more granularity of those businesses because frankly these are small numbers. And I don't think it makes a lot of sense to do that here.

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Operator [46]

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The next question comes from Sabrina Blanc from Societe Generale.

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Sabrina Blanc, Societe Generale Cross Asset Research - Equity Analyst [47]

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I have 2 small questions, please. The first one is regarding the performance of some Asia-Pacific and just to have an idea of the impact of the Fairmont Singapore and how long the refurbishment will take?

And the second question is regarding discontinued operation. What financing this part?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [48]

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In discontinued operation, it's very easy. What you have there is you have Orbis because Orbis now is accounted on that line. And so -- what you have at the time is essentially Orbis and then anything that may have situated around Booster would show on that line too, if there was something to be accounted for. That's the discontinued operation that you would see. That's why the number is so small at just EUR 60 million.

In terms of Singapore, Singapore should be back online in the second part of the year. It was a very large repair, on the site some effects. Singapore is a place into which this hotel industry is a good moneymaker. And it is close to 900 home hotels from the count in my head.

So that's why it has that effect on the Asia-Pacific performance. So that should improve -- that will improve in H2. Sorry, to be precise.

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Operator [49]

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The next question comes from Richard Clarke from Bernstein.

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Richard J. Clarke, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division - Research Analyst [50]

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Three questions. The first one is on the loyalty investments. I think for the full year results, you're going to be tracking that separately as a nonrecurring but it looks like you just included in the numbers. So just wondering whether you could sort of explain the EUR 10 million, where is that sitting maybe regionally by the different divisions?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [51]

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Yes. I mean it's essentially -- you're right, we said that. And you're right that we'll provide you some more detail. I mean at this juncture, it is still very small and it's only the beginning and as I was referring to other people you only will really see the effects once you cross the end of this year. And I am totally agreeing with you on the fact that we said that we would provide visibility.

So -- and then, the cost structure there essentially in the end quarter [1, essentially think the ramp starts here] and so they're sitting largely in the so-called service to owner. In fact, [that is in] service to owner.

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Richard J. Clarke, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division - Research Analyst [52]

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The second question just on the -- just during the math [building of all we do in] Accor, 2.9% RevPAR, 5.2% unit growth, and then you're seeing 5% like-for-like growth in hotel services.

Just wondering in a 5.2% system growth, what is the share of that from hotels that don't contribute to revenues? So Huazhu and 25hours and hotel like that?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [53]

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It's similar, I would say, to the tune of 1.5%.

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Richard J. Clarke, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division - Research Analyst [54]

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And then the last one...

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [55]

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It's essentially, and evaluate, it essentially was 1, which is why when I made the comment on the revenue and the performance of Asia-Pacific, I did quote the system growth of Asia-Pacific without Huazhu to just be absolutely crisp and clear in what I explained to you.

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Richard J. Clarke, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division - Research Analyst [56]

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And then just a last question on your luxury shift, just because I asked for the quarter 1 results as well. Your part of the spend, just still opening more economy rooms than luxury rooms. Are you happy at 40%? Would you be happy if that shifted back towards economy from here? Or are you going to take further initiatives to raise that 40% number?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [57]

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I think the 40% will continue to go. We quoted the number of 50% in the Capital Market Day. So I think that's a good number for you to take as a guidance infinite. And you should see also -- some large openings in H2. There are some hotel which are coming slowly online like in Guam, like in Mexico City, like in the Maldives that should increase the number of 22%.

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Richard J. Clarke, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division - Research Analyst [58]

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Okay. Just one quick follow up on the larger contribution. Just there's one -- a Bloomberg headline that's flashed up saying, he's reiterated the EUR 1.2 billion guidance for 2022. That should be EUR 1.26 billion, I think, now. Any change there? Or has that been misquoted?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [59]

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No, no, no. I mean we have been there before you guys, so I did confirm that nothing had changed on the guidance that we provided for 2022.

And I did confirm that nothing had changed on the guidance for 2022 pro forma discount effect. What I mean by that is when I do Orbis, obviously, it is reducing by the amount of EBITDA of Orbis, that target of 1.2, all right?

So there is nothing which has changed in the 2022 reasoning and in the 2022 target that you will have once you have to redo that computation today. Once we conclude the Orbis [deduction] the amount that will be in discontinued operations because of IFRS 16, you will also see that number go up in the other direction because IFRS 16, we provided you the pro forma. And it is not an insignificant number, it's a triple digit number. So that's the comment I made. Is that clear?

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Richard J. Clarke, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division - Research Analyst [60]

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Yes. It's clear, yes.

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Operator [61]

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The next question comes from Alex Brignall from Redburn.

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Alex Brignall, Redburn (Europe) Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst [62]

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Just 2 questions please. On New Businesses, I guess, a lot of savings are coming from taking out some cost of growth and some unprofitable beds. What does that teach us about potentially growth in the future, that lower appetite to take on potentially unprofitable businesses or lower appetite to invest in future growth? Or does that intention still remains as it was?

And then on HotelServices margins, it's pretty much flat year-on-year. And I know that it's always best way to move between quarters and halves, but there's a 4% RevPAR growth and the margin's largely flat. Would you refer that to be a little better? Or should we see more growth in H2? How should we think about that?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [63]

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On the New Businesses, I think the terms and the value that can be generated from new businesses hasn't changed. I mean out of the full portfolio that we acquire and you see that we have not changed that portfolio over the last month, there has always been no additions of any significance to the portfolio, what we've done is we've worked on resolving the 2 issue that we had. Recall that we booked EUR 250 million of [high comps] one year ago, at this same time. And so we've dealt with those issues but as I was saying in my comments on new businesses, the rest of the portfolio is doing very nicely. I.e. the rest of the portfolio is double-digit growth and high double-digit growth, and it is also very profitable businesses.

So it doesn't change, in fact, our capability to drive good businesses from those segments. It is true that we have the 2 issues to resolve. And that's what -- that's why -- in fact, the net number is the sum of 2 different patterns, okay?

In terms of the margin at HotelServices, you will see the margin of HotelServices improve over time. I mean we've launched that restructuring plan. And it's a good-sized plan because we booked more than EUR 100 million of restructuring charge at the end of last year.

Vicky asked me a question that I realized that did not answer on the phasing of those savings. That is EUR 60 million of saving. You should see above EUR 20 million by the end of this year, and you should see an additional 40 of those -- I'm searching, sorry, of those 60 in the second year, i.e. 2020. And the remainder will be -- the tail of it will be in 2021.

So that's how the phasing of the savings is going to pop up in a manner. So as this continues you will see, in fact, some improvement there.

The one thing that is important, too, again, to make sure that everybody's on the same wavelength here. The part where you see in the profitability and the richness of the business is M&F, right? That's management and franchise because I said, on STO you've got things that either adds an NOI of 0, which is the service, the marketing, the distribution of the loyalty. And you also add into that bucket should we call [redemption recall, the line] less cost which is a true 0 net effect to the P&L that relates to IFRS 16 change. And it is the fact that when I have some cost in my hotel that I get reimbursed for of personnel, I book a revenue and I book a cost from the exact same amount. And so there is also some of deformation of the profitability because you got the revenue under cost which are of the same amount and which are, kind of, destructing -- information is not English. It's a -- it is destructing, destruction. Coming from that IFRS 16 statement just like everybody else in the Street has. Is that answering your question?

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Alex Brignall, Redburn (Europe) Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst [64]

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Yes, that's great.

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Operator [65]

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The next question comes from Thomas Beevers from Stockviews.

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Thomas Edward Beevers, Stockviews, Ltd. - Co-Founder and CEO [66]

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Two questions for me please. Just on your net debt range on Page 16, I'm wondering if you could just give us additional color on the EUR 120 million outflow there. What that comprises of?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [67]

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Sure,

(technical difficulty)

share.

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Thomas Edward Beevers, Stockviews, Ltd. - Co-Founder and CEO [68]

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And the second question on the depreciation and amortization charge, in fact, the EUR 141 million for H1, is that a fair assumption of the level of D&A going forward? Or is there any kind of special in there?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [69]

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Yes, on the G&A, I answered a similar question earlier. What you should do, that along x2 you have a good proxy for the full year. So that's easy.

And the EUR 120 million that's where you have all the things like -- I was just alluding to the restructuring. That's where you would have the cash out on restructuring, that's where you have the cash out on [-- RB& D cut]. That's where you have the cash out on the integration of Mantra and Mövenpick. So that's why you see all these activities popping in.

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Operator [70]

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We don't have further questions.

(Operator Instructions)

We have a new question from Sabrina Blanc from Societe Generale.

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Sabrina Blanc, Societe Generale Cross Asset Research - Equity Analyst [71]

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I comment on the marketing plan, and the costs that are going to be spent -- spending in the second half of the year. If I understand correctly, this EUR 10 million has been spent at the beginning of the year impacted Service to Owner. And if you look at the EUR 14 million remaining, will it be only the 32 announced or we should have some impact of [all] the management and franchise part?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [72]

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No. The answer is -- the first part of your answer, i.e. Service to Owner.

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Operator [73]

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We don't have any further questions.

We have a new question from Geoffrey d'Halluin from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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Geoffrey d'Halluin, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director & Research Analyst [74]

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Just a quick question regarding New Business because we've seen some progress in the first half. And you said you would expect breakeven in Q4 this year. Which kind of profitability can we expect for that business going forward following the Q4 [and end of year]?

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [75]

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I think on this slide we put out some guidance on the New Businesses at the CMD. And we had an improvement of I think it was EUR 60 million in the bridge from 2018 to 2022. So I think you can use that as a good guidance for where we want to get on that segment plan.

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Operator [76]

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Mr. Morin, we don't have any more questions.

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [77]

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The last time you said that, there were more questions. So are you sure?

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Operator [78]

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(Operator Instructions)

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Jean-Jacques Morin, Accor SA - Deputy CEO & CFO [79]

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Okay. Very good. Thank you, thank you very much for taking the time tonight to be with us. And we look forward to talking to you soon. Bye-bye.

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Operator [80]

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Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's conference call. Thank you all for your participation. You may now disconnect.