EIH to tutor staff at Mukesh’s residence

EIH to tutor staff at Mukesh’s residence

Mumbai: Strengthening a newly formed alliance, Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi’s EIH Ltd will tutor Mukesh Ambani’s hospitality staff to manage Antilla, the latter’s under construction 22-storey home at Mumbai’s tony Altamount Road, a person familiar with the development said.

EIH is only helping to train the staff at Ambani’s residence, Ketaki Narain, director (corporate communication) at the Oberoi Group, said in an email to Mint on Tuesday.

She denied any contract to the hotel chain to manage Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman’s residence.

“These are baseless speculations," an RIL spokesman said in response to an email query.

“It is a one-off case out of friendship or an internal arrangement between two individuals," said Himani Singh, analyst at Mumbai-based brokerage Elara Securities India Pvt. Ltd, who tracks the hospitality sector.

As a?stand-alone line of business, household management or butler services for private residences is not lucrative for large hotel chains, she added.

Ambani’s new home will have seven-star facilities, with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, besides a rooftop helipad. Antilla stands opposite the Alt View building where both Mukesh and his younger brother Anil spent their childhood in the 1960s.

The 80,000 sq. ft landmark Ambani residence dwarfs the seven-storied home of Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla at the nearby Carmichael Road.

Training staff is different from managing the residence, said Elara’s Singh, and added that managing business apartments is gaining traction in India.

On 30 August, RIL’s investment firm Reliance Industries Investment and Holdings Pvt. Ltd paid Rs1,021 crore to purchase 55.4 million shares, or a 14.12% stake, from P.R.S. Oberoi and his family. The RIL arm, which paid Rs184 a share to the Oberois, later increased its stake to 14.8% by purchasing 2.68 million shares in an off-market deal.

The new investor gave enough financial strength to thwart any takeover bid by cigarette and consumer goods maker ITC Ltd, which has been holding a 14.98% stake in EIH.

“We are happy to encourage their (Reliance’s) investment," P.R.S. Oberoi had said in a media statement, while RIL said “it has full faith in and would support the management of EIH".

“The hospitality business is very capital intensive," Oberoi said, adding, “EIH has a growth strategy and it needs strong committed shareholders to support the company in the long term."