Spurned Tatas want apology from Orient-Express hotels

NEW DELHI, Dec 20, 2007 (AFP) – India’s Tata Group has demanded an apology from US-listed luxury hotel chain Orient-Express for rejecting its offer for a strategic tie-up on the grounds that its brand value might be diluted. Assocham, an Indian chambers of commerce body, slammed Orient-Express’s rebuff as one of “arrogance toward one of India’s most respected business houses.” The Orient-Express Hotels said last week it did not see a “strategic fit” with a “predominantly domestic Indian hotel chain,” drawing a sharp response from India’s government and leading businessmen.

The Tata Group — which owns the luxury Taj Hotels group — told the Orient-Express that last week’s letter from the global chain was “pejorative, inaccurate and libellous” in a letter.

“We ask the Orient-Express Hotels to publish a formal apology to the Taj Hotels using the same channel that it had used to publish its letter to the Taj Hotels,” said the letter dated Wednesday to Orient-Express chief Paul White.

The tone and language of the (Orient-Express) letter was “highly misinformed and unduly aggressive,” wrote R.K. Krishna Kumar, head of Indian Hotels Co Ltd, part of the Tata conglomerate.

Kumar accused Orient-Express of seeking t