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Tatas find an ally in Orient-Express battle

February 15, 2008 02:19 IST

Terming "unproductive" the public dialogue between the Tatas and Bermuda-based Orient-Express, a key investor has asked the US-listed luxury hotel chain to come clear on its corporate governance structure.


Activist hedge fund DE Shaw Valence, which has garnered 5.7 per cent in Orient-Express, also warned that it reserved its rights as shareholder to take appropriate actions if the firm did not address certain issues, including a lack of clarity on voting rights that might be hindering interested parties from making merger or acquisition offers.


DE Shaw Valence has accumulated the stake through various transactions over the past few weeks for about $135 million, which followed a public spat between Orient-Express and Tata group's Indian Hotels late last year triggered by a business combination proposal made by the latter.


In reply to the Tata group's proposal, Orient-Express Hotel CEO Paul White had said an alliance with a predominantly domestic Indian brand would erode the premium brand value of Orient-Express.


This was followed by Indian Hotels vice-chairman

R K Krishna Kumar seeking a public apology for using "libellous'' remarks while rebuffing the alliance proposal. The Tatas hold an 11.5 per cent stake in Orient Express.


DE Shaw said it would review its investment from time to time, after which it may purchase or sell shares or even engage in "a transaction with the purpose or effect of changing or influencing the control'' of the company .


In a letter addressed to the Orient-Express board, DE Shaw Valence said, "As shareholders of Orient-Express, we have become increasingly concerned by the public communications between the company and Indian Hotels. The continuation of this unproductive dialogue threatens to impose substantial costs on all shareholders."



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