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French hotel group Accor eyes further profit rise in 2019

PARIS, July 31 (Reuters) - Accor, Europe's largest hotels group, posted a 5.1% rise in first-half operating profit, driven by restructuring efforts and improving demand in Asia, and predicted another rise in profits for 2019 which was shaping up as a "record year".

Accor, which runs high-end chains such as Raffles and Sofitel as well as budget brands such as Ibis, said first-half earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 5.1% on a like-for-like basis to 375 million euros ($417.30 million).

Revenue per available room (revPAR), a key gauge of activity, rose 2.9% on a like-for-like basis, with Asia improving in the second quarter. The group also forecast full-year 2019 EBITDA rising to between 820-850 million euros, from 712 million in 2018.

Accor, with close to 4,800 hotels in 100 countries, has been cutting costs, and expanding in Asia and in the luxury end of the market.

It has also been investing in new areas such as concierge services, to boost its growth and fight the rising challenges posed by companies such as Airbnb and online travel agents.

In February, it said it would invest 225 million euros over the coming years to support new initiatives to boost its presence in hospitality and entertainment services.

($1 = 0.8986 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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