Calcutta, April 7: Lalit Suri’s Bharat Hotels has backed out of the final bidding of the state-run Great Eastern Hotels.
State tourism ministry officials said the company left at the last moment, claiming that it found Great Eastern to be a losing gamble.
“Probably they found out that it was not a profitable business proposition to invest in a hotel that is saddled with a huge liability,” the ministry officials added. The hotel incurs a loss of Rs 3 crore annually.
Bharat Hotels’ backing out of the bidding has come as a major blow to the state government, which was keen to hand over Great Eastern to the company as it has a reputation of running hotels successfully.
Great Eastern has received bids from three other parties by March 28 — the last date for submission of bids. These bids are from — Badshah Hotels (India), Singapora Limited, a Singapore-based company run by Monodip Shome, and Manish Financial Services, Malaysia. The three companies have submitted bank guarantees of Rs 25 lakh each along with the bids.
All four bidders had initially filled up a tender after submitting Rs 2 lakh. They were then asked to inspect the accounts and balance sheets of the hotel, before submitting the final bids.
The management of Great Eastern is upset with the decision of Bharat Hotels. “Bharat Hotels has the experience of running hotels in a profitable manner,” said senior officials of the hotel.
The three other parties who have submitted the bids hardly have any experience, the hotel officials said. “It is doubtful whether they will be able to run the hotel,” they added.
Bharat Hotels, which owns the Grand group of hotels, is a major player in the Indian tourism and hotel sector. Its portfolio of hotels includes seven luxury hotels in the country’s metro and destination cities offering more than 1,600 rooms in the five-star deluxe category. These include The Grand Intercontinental hotels in New Delhi, Mumbai, Goa and Srinagar and The Grand hotels in Bangalore, Udaipur and Khajuraho.
Yogesh K. Dhawan, chief operating officer of Bharat Hotels, was not available for comment.
State tourism minister Dinesh Dakua had said earlier that those who take over the hotel would be free to retrench employees and draw up voluntary retirement plans. The government had also made it clear that they do not have the funds to renovate and modernise the hotel.
Great Eastern, located at a prime position in the city’s commercial hub, has 176 rooms and employs about 500 people.