Luxury hospitality group Leela may raise debt funding from KKR

Hotel Leelaventure Ltd, which owns and operates hotels under brand of Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts, is in talks with global buyout fund house Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) to raise debt funding of as much as Rs 2,000 crore against two of its properties, according to The Economic Times citing sources.

Besides its private equity practice, KKR has been active in India lending through its NBFC unit. According to the newspaper, the loan will carry a high interest rate of 17 per cent and it will be against pledged of two hotels in Delhi and Chennai.

The public-listed debt laden company is likely to use this capital to service its outstanding loan of Rs 4,700 crore raised from a consortium led by State Bank of India.

Separate reports had said Leela had been in talks with sovereign funds of Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Malaysia to raise resources by selling its assets.

Hotel Leelaventure said on Monday that it has scheduled a board meeting on March 12, to evaluate various options for meeting the debt service obligations of the company.

The group has been selling assets to reduce its debt and earlier sold its IT park in Chennai for Rs 170 crore to Reliance Industries and its property in Kovalam to Ravi Pillai for Rs 500 crore. The group also has plans to sell a 3.84-acre piece of land in Hyderabad this year.

Hotel Leelaventure, which at present owns and operates eight hotels in the country, reported loss of Rs 433.4 crore in FY13 even as operating revenue for the same year increased 14 per cent to Rs 654 crore. Bulk of its troubles relate to high interest costs which totalled over Rs 400 crore last year.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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