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Marriott Wants to Enter This 'Wonderful' Asian Market

Thursday, 21 Feb 2013 | 12:27 AM ET
Marriott: Asia More Exciting Than America
Simon Cooper, President & Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Marriott International, talks about the company's Southeast Asian expansion plans, including projects in Thailand and India.

Marriott International is in talks with possible business partners in Myanmar and may use the same investment model used in India if it does make a commitment.

The Southeast Asian country is "a very attractive market, just having opened up," Simon Cooper, Marriott's president and managing Director for Asia Pacific told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday. "We are watching it very closely. It's a wonderful market both for corporate and for leisure. We aren't the only one looking for a deal."

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Cooper said that the hotel operator has not made an investment decision yet. "We are working with a number of groups and I went to Myanmar to meet two groups specifically. We will definitely commit if we can reach an agreement."

If the company does make an investment, Cooper suggested any deal would mark a departure from their typical model where the firm lends its name and manages hotels but generally doesn't own them.

(Read More: How Marriott's Trying to Get Its Mojo Back)

"Typically, our model is we find a real estate partner whose business is the real estate and we are the manager of the operation," Cooper said.

"To enter the market in Myanmar, we probably have to look at something like we've done in India with Fairfield when we were making an investment."

The hotel operator introduced its Fairfield Inn brand in India in April 2011, forming a joint venture with Samhi Hotels, a hotel investment fund, to build a Fairfield under the Marriott brand in India. Marriott did something unusual by investing its own money, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

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