Tata Indian Hotels profit plunges 96 pct

By AFP

July 15, 2010 Updated Jun 14, 2009 at 9:41 PM CDT

Tata Group's hospitality arm Indian Hotels Company Ltd. said Friday its annual net profit plunged 96.4 percent, hit by last November's militant attack on its landmark Taj Mahal hotel.

The subsidiary said consolidated net profit for year ending March fell to 124.6 million rupees (2.62 million dollars) from 3.54 billion rupees a year earlier.

Turnover for the year slipped nine percent to 27.82 billion rupees, the company said.

The performance was affected by the impact of the attacks and also the US slowdown.

No adjustments were made to reflect the value of damage to the hotel, as it was "adequately insured for property restoration," the company said in a statement.

The century-old Taj Mahal Palace and Tower were extensively damaged in the three-day killing spree by 10 Islamist gunmen which left 166 people dead in Mumbai, India's financial hub.

New Delhi blames a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group for planning and launching the assaults.

"The performance of the industry was impacted by the terror attacks in November, which slowed down the business in all key markets," company managing director Raymond Bickson told reporters.

The company's hotels saw guests and tourists cancelling bookings after the attacks, which stalled a slow-moving peace process between regional rivals India and Pakistan.

The Taj's Tower wing re-opened for business in December.

Tata officials said the hotel's damaged heritage wing could reopen next year.

"The terror attack was an evil thing. We have got to put it behind us," company vice president Krishna Kumar added.

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