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India Hospitality snaps up two companies in US$110 million deal

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US-based investment fund India Hospitality Corporation (IHC) announced its intention to acquire India-based Mars Restaurants Private Limited (MRPL), a hotel and restaurant company, and SkyGourmet Catering Private Limited (SCPL), an airline catering company operating out of four locations in India. India Hospitality made the purchase, which works out to approximately US$110 million, from Navis Capital Partners, a private equity firm with offices in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Bangkok, and certain private shareholders.

Going forward, affiliates of Navis Capital Partners and Sanjay Narang, the founder of SkyGourmet and Mars, will continue to play an active role in the management of the combined businesses, IHC said in a statement.

IHC will also buy from Navis the restaurant chain Nirula’s and another hotel, to create an India-based hospitality company.

Sanjay Narang commented: “With a broad and experienced management team already in place, we view this merger with India Hospitality as a unique platform to leverage our core competencies and operating experience. IHC’s vision and the support of its board will allow us to grow the business and become a leader in the Indian lodging, leisure and travel industry. With the economic growth India is currently experiencing, combined with a growing middle class, we believe we are on the cusp of a strong growth cycle and are excited to be partnering with IHC.”

Jason Ader, chairman and CEO of India Hospitality, added: “The rising purchasing power of the Indian consumer combined with the rapid emergence of low-cost airline carriers is expected to drive strong airline passenger growth. This growth is driving major infrastructure investments in airports which will create substantial expansion opportunities for hotels, restaurants and airline catering services. Further infrastructure investment in shopping malls and office parks creates additional opportunities to leverage these restaurant brands in food courts. I am confident that combining the long-established and successful operating history of these businesses with the stronger capital structure provided by this transaction will position IHC to better capitalise on these growth prospects.”

Mars operates two four-star Gordon House Hotels in India and owns restaurants including Tendulkar’s, Not Just Jazz by the Bay, Pizzeria, Dosa Diner, Just Around the Corner and All Stir Fry. SkyGourmet caters to airlines like Jet Airways, Kingfisher, Air India, Air France and Malaysian Airlines.

SkyGourmet will expand to 12 locations from four by 2009, and increase aggregate capacity to 72,000 meals a day by 2009, from 25,000. The airline industry is expected to expand from 47 million passengers in 2006 to over 100 million in 2010.

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