Hyatt land sold for a song

Rs. 9.2 b worth former Ceylinco property goes for Rs. 4.2 b; Govt. ignores Rs. 7.8 b offer

Construction on the Government-backed Hyatt Regency Hotel project was officially launched on Thursday with much fanfare, amidst allegations that the former Ceylinco property had been sold for a song – Rs 4.2 billion against an official valuation of Rs 9.2 billion and a pending offer of Rs 7.8 billion!

In the Supreme Court on the same day (Thursday) it was disclosed that a sale offer of US$ 60 million (Rs 7.8 billion) had been received for this property and that this amount was sufficient to repay depositors of the failed Ceylinco Shriram which owned the property. This property was acquired under the Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets Act as an under-performing asset.

Taking up the petitions regarding compensation payments, the court headed by Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake ordered the Attorney General to ascertain from Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera on how payments would be made to depositors of this failed company.
Earlier a consortium led by the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC) took over the partially-completed Celestial Residencies property and formed a company called Sino Lanka Hotels & Spa Pvt. Ltd. SLIC Chairman Gamini Senerath was also the chairman of this consortium.The media release issued on Thursday said the 43-storey hotel would have about 565 rooms with 475 guest rooms. There was no mention, however, of what cost the building was purchased at.

Board of Investment Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando signed the agreement with Mr. Senerath on Thursday at a ceremony where Defence and Urban Development Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Finance Ministry Secretary, P B Jayasundara and Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa were present. The compensation case will resume on August 8.

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