Marriott International has completed a $200m acquisition of the Cape Town, South Africa-based Protea Hospitality Group, in one fell swoop nearly doubling the size of its overall presence in the Middle East and Africa and becoming the largest hotel company in Africa.

Under the deal, which began way back in November 2012, Marriott now holds franchise and leasing rights for the Protea Group’s three brands, and will manage the group’s portfolio of 116 hotels and 10,148 rooms across seven African countries, including South Africa.

The total presence of Marriott International in the Middle East and Africa now stands at 160 hotels and around 23,000 rooms, while its upcoming pipeline of new hotels in the region includes a further 65 hotels and 14,300 rooms, according to the company’s most recent tally.

“With the addition of Protea’s regional knowledge, expertise and infrastructure, we are incredibly well-positioned to continue growing in one of the fastest expanding economic markets in the world,” noted Alex Kyriakidis, president and MD, Marriott International MEA (Dubai).

Arthur Gillis, the former CEO of Protea Hospitality, has subsequently joined Marriott International as its non-executivechairman for development in Africa, bringing with him Protea’s regional knowledge, and his understanding of the brand’s expertise and infrastructure.

Marriott is presently developing 25 brands in seven countries in Africa, and will open new hotels in Benin, Gabon, Ghana, Ethiopia and Mauritius over the next four years, and by 2017 the combined Marriott and Protea assets on the continent will cover some 16 countries.

Arne Sorenson, CEO and president of Marriott, added: “We see in Sub-Saharan Africa a microcosm of what’s happening in the developing world, with a huge growth in the Middle class and 40% increase in travel spending since 2009. Travel in Africa is going to be great over the decades to come.

“We can now officially say ‘Molweni!’, ‘Sawubona!’ and ‘Hello!’ to South Africa and ‘Welcome!’ to our 15,000 new associates at both managed and franchised hotels across Protea’s portfolio.”

Protea manages, franchises and leases 79 hotels in South Africa and 37 across six other countries: the Marriott Group operates and franchises over 4,000 hotels in 79 countries, while its shares gained 15% this year, placing the company’s valuation at $16.78 billion.