|By Ritwik Mukherjee, The Economic Times, India|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 12, 2004 - KOLKATA, India -- Even as a PricewaterhouseCoopers-led consortium works on the privatisation of Great Eastern Hotel, the West Bengal government is upbeat about the prospects of handing over the state-run hotel to the "most suitable buyer".
The state has already removed two major roadblocks to the privatisation move. The state government has announced that it would stand guarantor that the hotel could be taken over even without its present workforce.
The employees would of course be offered a decent early retirement scheme (ERS) with the DFID funds.
The state is also set to pass an ordinance ensuring removal of unauthorised occupants and illegal sub-tenants (mostly shops and other business establishments) from the ground floor of the hotel in the next session of the state legislative assembly, sources said.
Following this and an aggressive pre-sale initiative by the PwC-led consortium, the state tourism department, which is receiving bids from potential private buyers, has so far received encouraging responses from domestic and overseas hotel chains for the state's prime property in the city's central business district.
The last date for submission of bids falls on December 22. Although department officials were tightlipped about divulging the names, sources said that there had been quite a few leading international hotel chains among the respondents.
It may be recalled that a PwC-led consortium is engaged in designing, execution and monitoring of privatisation of the state-run Great Eastern Hotel. Apart from PwC, the consortium comprises CB Richard Ellis and Amarchand Mangaldas-Shroff.
Great Eastern hotel privatisation, incidentally is just the beginning of the state's overall exercise to turn around as many as 16 state-run Public Sector Enterprises under a DFID-sponsored programme. The Buddhadeb Bhattacharya-government had also brought Great Eastern Hotel under the fold of DFID-funded Pilot Project.
In the new scheme of things, the PwC-led consortium was given the mandate of valuation of the assets of the Great Eastern Hotel and advising the government in the complete process of a "transparent generation of purchase offers" for the hotel comprising invitation of expression of interest and their qualification, bidding and contracting phases, sources said.
Moves to privatise Great Eastern Hotel had failed on at least three occasions in the past.
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