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Monday, Jul 25, 2005

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Oberois committed to increasing stake in EIH to over 50 per cent

Mohan Padmanabhan

File photo of the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai. — Shashi Ashiwal

Kolkata , July 24

THE Oberois are totally committed to take their holdings to over 50 per cent in EIH Ltd, while fully adhering to the norms stipulated by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Talking to Business Line here , Mr S.S. Mukherji, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of EIH Ltd, said the promoter holding has now gone up to 46.27 per cent, up from the earlier 42.61 per cent, after acquiring UTI's stake of 3.66 per cent.

Dispelling market notions that promoter holding was being hiked to safeguard the company from hostile takeovers, he said the acquisition happened because UTI exercised the option to sell its stake to the Oberois, rather than offload it in the market, and "we agreed to acquire the stake". The payout is said to be around Rs 80 crore.

The Oberois, he clarified, are totally involved with development of the company, and "we are particularly looking forward to a vastly improved business scenario for the hospitality sector in the wake of brighter economic prospects for the country as a whole".

He said the entire hotel industry, arguably one of the largest employment generators, has been looking up for the last six months.

Among the positive factors, he listed the Government's latest aviation policy initiatives, privatisation of airports and smoothening of relationship with neighbours in the region, including Pakistan. On the successful co-branding exercise with Hilton for the Trident hotels of the Group, Mr Mukherji said Hilton as a hotel brand enjoyed an excellent brand recall worldwide. "This is certainly adding value to our properties," he added.

On the proposed new projects, apart from the 437-room Rs 650-crore Bandra-Kurla hotel project, he said the company is now conceptualising the Bangalore hotel project, land (8 acres) for which has already been acquired in the Hebber Lake area.

It is learnt that this may be a 225-250 room super deluxe hotel. The Oberois already have a presence in Bangalore.

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