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Lease gap in building grab

Standard Chartered Bank on Tuesday confirmed it had “assigned” the lease agreement with the royal family of Burdwan for 4, Netaji Subhas (NS) Road, to Cold Gold Syntex Pvt Ltd, of Calcutta. “The deal to assign the leasehold of the property in favour of Cold Gold Syntex was signed on July 18,” a spokesperson for the bank said.

Siddharth Roy, a director of Cold Gold Syntex, added: “We will be moving our corporate office to 4, NS Road within the next few months.”

Ajay Jhunjhunwala, who has “diverse business interests”, is director of the company.

StanChart, meanwhile, has written to the Mahtab family of Burdwan, seeking extension of its 100-year-old lease of the Dalhousie building. The agreement is set to expire in December 2005.

Neither the bank nor Jhunjhunwala has officially informed the royal family about the deal, though the Mahtabs and StanChart were previously scouting for a buyer together.

“The terms of the original lease did not require us to inform the owners,” claimed a spokesperson for StanChart.

Maharaj Adhiraj Bijoy Chand Mahtab Bahadoor had leased out 4, NS Road to Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, in 1905, for a princely consideration of Rs 40,000.

Under the agreement, dated December 12, 1905, the bank could have the lease extended by another 100 years on revised terms. The bank paid Rs 2,000 as rent per month for the first two years of tenancy. The rent was later raised to Rs 2,479.

The Mahtab family’s assets have been divided amongst the heirs and at present, Karuna Devi, grand-daughter of Bijoy Chand Mahtab, and her two sisters own the property, with a usable space of 127,586 square feet.

Though the Mahtabs are “upset” with StanChart for transferring the leasehold of the property without consulting them, “they may not be able to block the deal, as the bank was allowed to sub-lease the building to Bird & Co in 1948”, say lawyers.

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