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Indian Hotels offers olive branch to Orient Express

15 January 2008

Taj Hotels operator Indian Hotel Company has refused to quit in its bid to lure Orient-Express into talks over a potential alliance, despite a war of words before Christmas.

Orient-Express has so far rejected approaches from Indian Hotels on the basis that any tie-up would diminish its brand.

It also believes there is no strategic fit between a "predominantly domestic Indian hotel chain and our global portfolio of luxury hotels and unique travel experiences".

Indian Hotels vice-chairman RK Krishna Kumar labelled the remarks before Christmas as "pejorative, inaccurate and libellous" claiming the remarks sounded as if they were from "over-zealous advisor" rather than Orient-Express chief executive Paul White.

Kumar has however now offered an olive branch to Orient-Express, telling the Financial Times: "If there is any element of civil behaviour which we can expect from them, then I think we should expect them to come to some kind of dialogue".

Indian Hotels is owned by Indian business conglomerate Tata, and Kumar said that a large number of its shareholders were becoming indignant over the merger saga, especially as it owned an 11.5% stake in Orient Express.

"Why are we not pursuing the task of engaging with what we, as the largest shareholder of the company, are advocating that we should do?"

He added that Tata was "waiting" for Orient-Express management to come to the table.

Taj Hotels owner calls for public apology from Orient Express >>

Orient-Express Hotels appoints chief financial officer >>

Orient-Express declines alliance with Indian hotel group >>

by Christopher Walton

E-mail your comments toby Christopher Walton here.

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