Oberoi Group weighs options for Morocco foray

Oberoi Group weighs options for Morocco foray

Casablanca, made famous by the eponymous 1942 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, could well be the next theatre of action for the Oberoi Group.

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, the Indian luxury hotel arm of the group is looking at setting up a 5-star hotel in Morocco’s largest city fringing the Atlantic Ocean on the country’s western coast, according to sources aware of the development.

The Oberoi chain of hotels is also looking at Marrakesh in south-west Morocco for a second 5-star property and is understood to have finalised the required land in both these cities.

Sources said that land is likely to be acquired on lease for both projects and that an agreement is imminent. “The group is looking at adding approximately 500 international keys through the two Morocco projects,” sources said.

It could not be independently confirmed if the group is entering into a joint venture with a local hospitality leader for the projects. A Oberoi spokesperson did not respond to questions seeking comment.

“Both these cities of north-west Africa have been major tourism magnets for Morocco for centuries. The development of both these destinations, particularly Casablanca, as business hotspots is an added attraction for luxury hotel chains like Oberoi,” a source said.

Founded in 1934, the Oberoi Group operates 30 hotels, a Nile Cruiser and a motor vessel in the backwaters of Kerala. Locations where it has a presence include Jaipur, Bangalore, Madina, Mauritius, Lombok and Bali (Indonesia), Dubai, Kolkata, New Delhi and Agra.

EIH Ltd and EIH Associated Hotels are the two major holding companies of Oberoi Hotels.

EIH’s larger rival ITC Ltd held 14.98 per cent stake in Oberoi’s hotel chain as of end September, with promoters led by group patriarch and majority shareholder in EIH Ltd, P R S Oberoi, holding 32.86 per cent stake through a number of group entities.

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries dipped into the venture in 2010 by taking a minority stake for Rs 1,021 crore. RIL’s holding in Oberoi Hotels as of June 2014 was 18.53 per cent.

The Oberoi group currently has a presence in six countries under the luxury ‘Oberoi’ and five-star ‘Trident’ brands. It is also engaged in flight catering, airport restaurants, travel and tour services, car rentals, project management and corporate air charters.

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