By Elton Gomes
The New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) ambitious plan to place the Taj Mansingh hotel under the hammer has received a cold response from potential bidders. Only the Indian Hotels Company (IHC), owned by Tata group, has placed a bid for the luxury hotel located on Mansingh Road, New Delhi. The NDMC will now have to hold a fresh auction for the hotel – which could take up to several months.
Thursday was the final day for submission of bids for the Taj Mansingh, which is built on NDMC land. Along with the Taj Mansingh, the Connaught hotel and Hotel Asian International were also to be auctioned. The two lesser known hotels have received three bidders each, thereby advancing the auction process.
NDMC member and AAP legislator from Delhi, Surinder Singh said that the current auction was nothing less than a ‘’conspiracy.’’ Singh added that to attract more bidders, the next tender should be conducted properly.
An official close to the matter told Live Mint,“Indian Hotels is the only bidder for Taj Mansingh. With just one bidder, the auction would be nullified and may be postponed.” As opposed to the previous tender, the current notice gave opportunities to bidders other than hotel owners. Potential bidders had to fulfil the condition of having a hotel partner with at least 700 rooms and an annual revenue of more than Rs. 400 crore.
When NDMC chairman Naresh Kumar was asked whether fresh bids will be invited for the hotel, he said, replied by saying the organisation will do as per “tender conditions.”
Here’s what happened
On June 2, the Supreme Court rejected the Tata’s plea to stay the e-auction of the Taj Mansingh. The Tata group wished to hold some influence in the e-auction process for its record of overseeing the hotel’s operations and management over the past 40 years.
The Financial Express reported that on April 20, 2017, the Supreme Court had allowed an e-auction of the rights of the hotel. It asked the NDMC to consider the flawless track record of the IHCL, which runs the Taj chain of hotels. On behalf of the IHCL, senior counsel A.M. Singhvi said that the tender was to give weight to IHCL’s near-perfect capabilities in successfully running the five-star hotel for nearly 40 years, but this is “clearly missing” from the impugned document.
The NDMC opted for a public auction of the hotel in an attempt to gain a better price for granting the lease of the property. However, the Taj group was against an open auction and argued that it would artificially increase the price of the property.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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