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Bleeding hotel doors open to bidders
Will the suitors hold its hand'

Calcutta, April 18: The 10 possible buyers of the 165-year-old Great Eastern Hotel will be allowed into the building this May to take a look at its interiors and scrutinise papers.

The process that is known as 'due diligence' will take off on May 9.

'We will run four data rooms in the hotel containing all relevant documents, including five-year records. Each interested party will be given five working days to visit the data rooms and go through the documents. The process is expected to be complete in 21 days,' said an official.

Those interested in taking over Great Eastern include ITC Ltd, the Park Hotels, Inter Continental South West Asia, Bharat Hotels, Claridges Hotel Group, Unitech Group, New Kenilworth, Sinclairs, Ramsuk Scan AB (a Scandinavian company) and Ruchi Group.

The government today issued one 'last deadline' to the hotel employees to accept the early retirement scheme (ERS). The renewed offer will be open from April 19 to May 18, both days inclusive.

Two more employees collected the ERS forms during the day and submitted them. 'This is a positive signal and we hope more employees will collect the forms in the coming days,' said Jagannath Bag, member secretary and chief executive of the hotel.

A dozen employees out of over 400 have picked up the forms yet and eight have submitted them.

In the extended period, the forms will available on the hotel premises, the tourism office on Brabourne Road and online. The applications can be availed of from two sites: wbtourism.com and wb.gov.in

'Employees can download forms from these sites and deposit the filled-in applications by hand, registered post or courier with either the hotel member secretary or the tourism director,' said tourism secretary T.K. Barman.

He said the government decided to offer a 'last chance' after the hotel unions assured it that they would convince the employees into accepting the scheme.

'We felt if they were given more time, it would be easier for the employees to understand and accept the scheme. We are also counting on their cooperation so that the due diligence is completed smoothly. We do not want anything unpleasant happening that would jeopardise the process,' said Barman.

He made it clear that 'there is no scope for giving more time to the staff' as the government's 'schedule for the transfer' is ready.

Once the process is completed, the government will hold meetings with the bidders and finalise the transaction. 'If the due diligence is completed smoothly in three weeks, we expect the bids to come in by June-end or early July.'

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