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Orient rebuffs Tatas again

February 28, 2008 10:35 IST

After a silence of about three months, Orient-Express Hotels, the Bermuda-based luxury hotel chain, has finally broken its silence on the apology sought by Indian Hotels Company Limited.

"We have not spoken to the company (Indian Hotels) since October last year. The letter filed with the Securities Exchange Commission in December was rather bizarre," Paul M White, CEO, OEH, said in an earnings conference call on Tuesday late evening.

White was referring to a letter addressed to the CEO of Orient Express in December by R K Krishna Kumar, vice chairman, IHCL, seeking an apology for "libellous" remarks made while rebuffing the Tata offer for a strategic alliance. The audio web cast of the conference call was put up on the Orient Express web site. The Tatas refused to comment, when contacted.

White also specified that IHCL made no bid to buy further stake in Orient Express. "They approached the company to form a strategic alliance," said White. The company concluded that it did not have any interest in the offer.

After making the offer for the strategic alliance, Tatas increased their stake in Orient Express to 11.5 per cent from 10 per cent. At least three large hedge funds thereafter raised their holdings in the Bermuda-based hotel. DE Shaw and affiliated funds disclosed a 5.7 per cent stake in February this year and asked OEH to come clean on the IHCL issue.

SAC Capital Partners, promoted by the US billionaire Steven Cohen raised its holding to 22.5 per cent and Black Rock Advisors, one of the world's largest hedge funds took 5.2 per cent stake in OEH.

Dubai Holding, the owner of Jumeirah Group, took 9.2 per cent stake in OEH last October.

BS Reporter in Mumbai
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