ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 46
Financial Times  

Nahil clinches Continental

By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekara

Active stock market player and businessman, Nahil Wijesooriya together with a consortium of investors has bought the controlling stake at Continental Hotel, but will not change the business model of the hotel.

“The management will be the same. The previous owners have done a lot for the hotel and we are not planning to change the management,” Wijesooriya, who headed the consortium which bought into the hotel, told The Sunday Times FT.

He said they will not change the name or add new extensions or build on the hotel, but strengthen its marketing aspect.

The new owners of Continental Hotel are looking at buying the leasehold property of the hotel from Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB). "We are looking at the possibility of converting the leasehold land to freehold,” Wijesooriya add. The hotel was constructed from land obtained in 1970 from the SLTB (Ceylon Tourist Board then) on a 99 year old lease, starting from 9th May, 1970.

The hotel pays Rs.2.3 million annually to SLTB as the operating lease rental. Indian investor U.K. Sharma sold 53 percent of his 97.33 percent holding in Hotel Services Ceylon Ltd early this week at Rs.138 per share.

Wijesooriya said a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Green Care International was floated by some Singaporean businessman, who came into the consortium through this SPV.

When asked why he bought the hotel at a time when the stock market was depressed, Wijesooriya said it is the best time to buy into stocks. "I worked on the deal on a hunch. I worked hard at this hunch and made it happen," he added.

Companies like Aitken Spence and John Keells had shown some interest in the hotel earlier. "Aitken Spence is the only large hotel chain which does not have a city hotel. They felt it was a missing link and have been looking at both Hilton Colombo and Ceylon Continental about a year ago," an industry analyst said.


Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]

Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2008 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.