Global serviced apartment operator The Ascott Limited has invested more than £55m in – China’s equivalent to Airbnb.

The joint venture means Ascott will operate and franchise serviced apartments through the home-sharing site. It also allows it to hit its target of 20,000 units in China by 2020.

Ascott is the largest international serviced residence owner-operator in China with more than 14,000 apartment units in 77 properties across 24 cities.

Beijing-based Tujia’s apartment sharing site, valued at more than $1bn, caters for business and leisure travellers across China and overseas.

Ascott CEO Lee Chee Koon, said: “China’s lengthening list of billion-dollar technology start-ups is an indication of investors’ confidence in the country’s booming internet sector.

“By investing in Tujia, a frontrunner in the online apartment sharing platform, Ascott is now well positioned to benefit from this growth.”

He added: “This investment will also allow Ascott to better integrate our offline resources with Tujia’s online capabilities to participate more strategically in the Chinese internet space. We plan to make our three internationally recognised brands of serviced residences – Ascott, Citadines and Somerset – available on Tujia’s website for booking, expanding our reach to more customers online.”

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