Thursday, December 20, 2007

Orient Express Hotels of Britain battles largest shareholder

A war of words is heating up between a British-run hotel company and its largest shareholder, Indian Hotels.

Orient Express Hotels of Britain, parent company of the 21 Club in New York and Venice's Hotel Cipriani, has been ignoring overtures by Indian Hotels for cooperation since it acquired a 10 percent stake in September.

Politicians and the media in India say that racism and old-fashioned thinking are behind the short shrift.

In the latest salvo, the Indian Hotels vice chairman, R.K. Krishna Kumar, sent a letter to the Orient Express chief executive, Paul White, dated Dec. 19 and distributed to the media on Thursday. It charged that the British hotel operator "has an entrenched board and management that does not meet the needs of its shareholder base, nor respect the most basic tenants of corporate governance."

Indian Hotels and Dubai Holdings, the two largest shareholders of Orient Express, have been "unable to enter into any meaningful dialogue" with the Orient Express board, Kumar wrote.

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