The Oberoi group is close to signing a marketing and branding agreement with Hilton of UK for its Trident properties.
East India Hotels Ltd managing director S S Mukherjee said: "It is among the top two serious contenders with whom we are negotiating in each category and it is only a matter of time before these pacts are finalised."
Industry sources, however, said the contracts have been signed and the final announcements will take place in the near future. Mukherjee said a final decision will be taken in the current fiscal.
He said the group has decided against management contracts or equity participation with any of the hotel chains and will go in for only branding and marketing ties.
Under the proposed agreement, while the Oberoi properties will be marketed internationally and will get exposure to 2.4 million people coming to India every year, the international hotel chains will be marketed among 5.5 million people going abroad.
Hilton recently re-entered India for the third time by forming a joint venture with Blue Coast Hotels (former Morepen Hotels). The joint venture plans to construct five star hotels at Mumbai, Goa and Bangalore.
Earlier, Hilton had tied up with Lalit Suri-promoted Bharat Hotels for its property in Delhi and then with Sanjay Khan-owned Golden Palms resort near Bangalore.
It is already known that the group has been negotiating with Four Seasons for its villas and the other metro properties.
He said both the Trident and the villas will attach the name of the international hotel's name.
"It is only such issues left which are being sorted out at present." Interestingly, Four Seasons is already undertaking a market research to determine the feasibility in both the cases.
While the group, at present, has seven Trident properties, four others are in the planning and construction stage.
The group also owns four villas properties including Vanyavilas, Amarvilas, Rajvilas and Udaivilas along with Wildflower Hall at Mashobra and the Cecil at Simla.
The group also owns five star properties at various metros including Delhi and Mumbai and another 12 properties internationally.
The group has recently made considerable investments in its vilas properties.
While the gross fixed assets of the company have increased from Rs 863.8 crore (Rs 8.638 billion) in 1997-98 to touch Rs 1466.3 crore (Rs 14.663 billion) in 2001-02, the borrowings have also increased significantly from Rs 83.1 crore (Rs 831 million) to Rs 464.8 crore (Rs 4.648 million) during the same period.