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Taj Hotels owner calls for public apology from Orient Express

20 December 2007 by
Taj Hotels owner calls for public apology from Orient Express

A row has broken out between Orient Express and the Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) after a proposed joint venture between the luxury chains went sour.

In September the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces owner acquired a 10% stake in Orient Express for $211m (£106m), keen to forge an alliance outside of India.

At the time the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces owner said it was looking for alliances with leading hotel groups outside of India. It now has a stake in Orient of 11.5%.

However, IHCL, which currently has a 11.5% stake in Orient, was turned down twice over joint development proposals and angered earlier this month when Orient Express chief executive Paul White dismissed the company in an open letter.

White said in the letter dated 10 December that there would be no fit between a "predominantly domestic Indian hotel chain and our global portfolio of luxury hotels and unique travel experiences".

White added he did not wish to be involved in an attempt to improve the performance of IHCL's non-Indian properties and that any tie-up would likely tarnish Orient's image.

But R K Krishna Kumar vice-chairman of IHCL attacked White's remarks yesterday describing them as "pejorative, inaccurate and libellous".

His also lambasted the letter as "highly misinformed" and "unduly aggressive" saying he thought it initially to be written on White's behalf by an "over-zealous advisor".

Kumar has now demanded a public apology from White.

Orient-Express declines alliance with Indian hotel group >>

Taj plans £10m spend on St James Court >>

By Christopher Walton

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