Tatas studying Orient Express buyout snub

Tata Group firm Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) on Friday said it is reviewing the rejection of its takeover bid offer of $12.63 per share by luxury hotels chain Orient-Express (OEH) board.

"Indian Hotels and Montezemolo & Partners on behalf of Charme II Fund on Friday acknowledged the announcement by OEH (of rejecting its takeover bid), and are reviewing the position taken by the OEH board and considering their options with respect to their offer to acquire the hotel," IHCL said in a statement.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is serving as sole financial advisor to Indian Hotels for the proposed transaction, while Shearman & Sterling LLP is serving as legal advisor, and Hotel Advisor (UK) is providing industry expertise.

Orient Express on Thursday rejected the "unsolicited" $1.86-billion buyout offer by the Tatas, saying the bid significantly undervalues the New York-based company. "After thorough consideration, and in consultation with independent financial and legal advisors, our board has unanimously concluded that your proposal significantly undervalues Orient-Express and its future prospects," Orient Express chairman J Robert Lovejoy said in a letter to Indian Hotels Company Vice-Chairman R K Krishna Kumar.

Indian Hotels’ offer of $12.63 per share in cash to acquire all the outstanding shares of Orient Express was at a 40 per cent premium to the luxury hotel chain’s scrips on October 18. This was the second takeover attempt by Indian Hotels, which already holds about 7 per cent in Orient Express.

The offer "significantly undervalues" the company and its unique assets and is not in the best interests of shareholders, Orient Express said.

Indian Hotels had earlier termed its all-cash offer as "compelling". IHCL along with Charme II Funds, founded by the family of Ferrari chairman Luca Montezemolo, had made an all-cash offer to acquire the outstanding 93.1 per cent stake at $12.63 per share.

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