Formation of the Group was the vision of its founder and Chairman, Kwek Leng Beng, who leads Singapore's Hong Leong Group.
One of Hong Leong's subsidiaries, CDL Hotels International acquired its first six Asian hotels in 1989. In 1993 the company bought the 548-room Gloucester Hotel in London and took control of a 13-hotel chain in New Zealand. The following year CDL entered the US market, acquiring the Millennium Hilton and the Millennium Broadway in New York.
In 1995 CDL acquired Copthorne Hotels from Aer Lingus for £219 million and launched its new global hotel brand, Millennium Hotels & Resorts. Around that time the Group became New Zealand's largest hotel owner with 21 hotels and acquired a controlling stake in the landmark Plaza Hotel in New York. (The stake was sold in a landmark transaction in 2004.)
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc (M&C) floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1996. During the same year it acquired the Millennium Mayfair hotel in London from InterContinental, as well as hotels in France and Germany.
The following year it was voted "Best UK Hotel Group of the Year" at the 1997 Executive Travel Hotel Awards.
All of the Group's subsequent milestones have been recorded in its financial announcements and annual reports, but some of the more significant milestones include:
1999: Having made further hotel acquisitions in New Zealand and Asia, CDL's Asian and Australasian hotels were
acquired by M&C, transforming it into a global hotel owner/operator. In the same year M&C acquired the 5-star Seoul Hilton and the Regal Hotel chain in the US.
2000: M&C opened its first management contract in the UK, the Millennium Madejski Hotel Reading. In the same year, M&C entered into a global strategic marketing alliance agreement with one of Germany's largest and most prestigious hotel companies, Maritim Hotels.
2001: M&C began its expansion into the Middle East with several management contracts in the United Arab Emirates.
2006: M&C restructured its Singapore assets via the initial public offering of CDL Hospitality Trusts (CDLHT), a ground-breaking Singaporean hospitality real estate investment trust. The Group sold and leased back its interests in the Orchard, M, Copthorne King's and Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotels. The Group also purchased 39% of CDLHT (diluted in 2010 to 35%). In the same year, the Group made its first move into China, opening the Millennium Hongqiao in Shanghai under management contract.
2007: The Group stepped up its activities in China with the establishment of First Sponsor Capital Limited - a 50/50 joint venture to develop mixed use property (including hotels) in some of China's second tier cities.
2008: Global financial markets were severely impacted by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, leading to a swift and deep recession, particularly affecting revenues in New York and Singapore. Despite the loss of revenue, the Group remained profitable throughout the ensuing turmoil, reflecting its robust owner/operator business model and low levels of net debt after the CDLHT transaction and sale of the Plaza Hotel in 2004.
2010: The group successfully launched its latest brand, Studio M, in Singapore. The hotel became EBITDA-positive within three months of launch, which is unusual for a new hotel. In the same year the Group strengthened its commitment to China, acquiring a 70% majority stake in the award-winning Grand Millennium Beijing.
2011: The Group completed two significant asset management transactions - selling and leasing back Studio M to CDLHT and selling a parcel of land adjacent to the Grand Millennium Hotel Kuala Lumpur. It closed the Copthorne Orchid Hotel in Singapore to develop the site into condominiums, further demonstrating the flexibility of its owner/operator strategy. In the same year, Millennium & Copthorne acquired a land site in Tokyo's prestigious Ginza district, where it announced it would build its first ever hotel in the Japanese capital.
2012: At its annual results presentation in February, the Group announced record revenues and profits for the year ending December 31, 2011, reflecting robust operating performance as well as gains from its asset management activities.