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Accor: Sébastien Bazin on Travel and Hospitality in a Post-COVID World

Episode 15 / December 2020

Southeastern’s London-based Senior Analyst and Principal, John Woodman, interviews Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of Accor.

They discuss the short-term impact and long-term implications of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry [1:37 – 3:40], as well as steps Accor has taken to position itself to be a beneficiary of the travel recovery [3:44 – 6:20]. Next, Sébastien discusses the benefits of shifting to an asset-light model, [6:24 – 8:05] the recently announced merger with Ennismore and Accor’s plans to build out its lifestyle business. [8:10 – 15:23] They then discuss the potential for the pandemic to accelerate consolidation in the industry and discuss the unexpected opportunities that COVID has created. [15:25 – 18:39] Next, they discuss Sébastien’s unique background and his shift from engaged private equity investor in Accor to CEO and Chairman of the business, touching upon Colony Capital’s and Southeastern’s overlap as aligned shareholders during our prior investment in Accor and sharing what he has learned from sitting on both sides of the boardroom table. [18:43 – 24:14] They discuss how Accor’s culture spans across a large and geographically diverse business, as well as Sébastien’s views on capital allocation. [24:17 – 33:50] Next, they shift to discuss the importance of engaging with shareholders to ensure strong governance and drive positive outcomes and how shareholder engagement in the US differs from engagement in Europe. Sébastien discusses how he balances the competing interests of stakeholders to ensure long-term sustainability of the business. [33:52 – 40:16] He then discusses steps taken by the All Heartist fund to provide support for employees throughout the COVID crisis [40:18 – 43:46] and discusses the importance of ESG factors and diversity and inclusion at Accor in more detail. [43:48 – 48:58] Finally, Sébastien shares some personal insights in a short round of questions at the end. [49:00 – 55:20]