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Tata group company buys 10% stake in Orient-Express

The Indian Hotels Co, the country’s largest hotel operator and owner of the Taj hotel chain, has acquired a 10% stake in Orient-Express Hotels Ltd for $211 million, news reports said Tuesday.

Indian Hotels snapped up the stake through its wholly owned subsidiary Samsara Properties by selling government securities to buy the stake. Looking to discuss a possible alliance with the company, the Tata Group company has also written to James Hurlock, chairman of the board of Bermuda-based Orient-Express, which part-owns and manages 35 hotels in 25 countries. It also runs cruises and luxury trains, including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. “We have been pursuing alliances with leading hotel groups that have not yet set up a presence in India but have secured leadership positions in various geographies,” RK Krishna Kumar, vice chairman of Indian Hotels, was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.

The Mumbai-based Taj Group of hotels and resorts was established nearly 100 years ago. It runs 57 hotels at 40 locations across India. About 20% of its revenue comes from global acquisitions. The announcement of the Orient-Express states followed the completion of Indian Hotels’ purchase of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston for $170 million in January and as the Indian hospitality industry is undergoing a fast-paced expansion as incomes grow and Indians increasingly travel and eat out. Indian Hotels plans to spend as much as $1.5 billion to open new hotels in the United States, Europe and Asia as part of its campaign to turn itself into a “global brand,” Raymond Bickson, Taj’s CEO, said in February. (m&c.com)