In the latest sign of how important India is to hotel companies' expansion plans, Choice and Carlson last week both revealed agreements to acquire the companies that manage their operations there.

Choice Hotels International said it had agreed to buy the remaining 60% ownership interest in Choice Hospitality India, making it a wholly owned subsidiary.

Carlson Hotels Worldwide, meanwhile, said it has signed an agreement to increase its stake in RHW Hotel Management Services from 13% to 87%.

Carlson also said that it will be adding 50 hotels, from the current 28 hotels to 78, by the end of 2012.

"We are very proud of what we have achieved in India to date," said Hubert Joly, president and CEO of Carlson. "This acquisition is a natural progression for Carlson as we continue to grow in this key market."

RHW has managed Carlson-branded hotels in India since 1998. Carlson is acquiring the shares from Umak Investment Co. The remaining 13% is held by private investors.

The acquisition will result in an integrated organization for Carlson Hotels in India, encompassing development, projects, operations, marketing and sales.

"I am confident that the new structure will help us maximize our potential, and I look forward to continue working with all who have been associated with Carlson's success so far," said K.B. Kachru, Carlson Hotels' executive vice president for South Asia, who will head the India operation.

Both companies announced their plans at the Hotel Investment Forum India Conference in Mumbai last week.

At Choice, CEO Stephen Joyce said in a statement that the company planned to focus "extensive development resources" on growing its presence in India. The company currently has 28 hotels there.

"India is an extremely important key market for our global growth, and we're looking forward to the great development potential that it holds for our brands and our hotels," he added.

"Development remains steady for us, as we've recently expanded our presence with the opening of the Quality Inn Pearl in Hyderabad and the Quality Inn in Tuticorin," said Vilas Pawar, CEO for Choice Hospitality India.

Choice franchises 6,000 hotels around the world. Its brands include Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn.

Carlson Hotels Worldwide has 1,060 locations in 77 countries. Its brands include Regent Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Country Inns & Suites by Carlson and Park Inn.

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