Taj Hotels and Orient-Express
Two luxury hotel chains will not be checking in together
INDIA and Orient-Express have never rubbed along.
The luxury hotel firm's buccaneering founder, James Sherwood, visited the country in the early 1990s and had a nightmare.
His private jet was delayed for an age in Mumbai while officials checked that the bottles in its on-board bar were sealed correctly.
He signed a deal to run the Lake Palace Hotel in Rajasthan, owned by local royalty.
The deal collapsed when lawyers discovered that Mr Sherwood's interlocutor was not the real Maharana of Udaipur, but his brother.
TheLakePalacewas run then, and still is, by Taj Hotels.
It is part of Tata Sons,India's biggest conglomerate.
For the past half-decade Taj has fantasised about swallowing its American-listed rival.
In 2007 it took a stake in Orient; it owns 6.9% today.
In 2012 it made a takeover bid valuing Orient's equity at 1.3 billion.
Orient dismissed this as one of its guests might a bell hop, arguing it was too low. On November 8th the Indian firm abandoned its pursuit.
Orient has 45 trophy properties including the Hotel Cipriani inVeniceand theCopacabanaPalaceinRio de Janeiro.
Most were acquired after years of negotiation by Mr Sherwood, who retired as chairman in 2007.
A glorious symbol of extravagance, the firm entered the global financial crisis with too much debt.
As profits collapsed it barely survived and its market capitalisation dropped to 144m at the low point.
Since then it has been groping its way back to financial health.
The Taj bid speeded that process.
Days after it was made in October 2012, Orient appointed a new boss, John Scott.
The firm has cut costs and sold assets.
Its market capitalisation has recovered smartly to 1.5 billion—above the Taj bid, although some way off the 2.7 billion valuation it enjoyed at the peak.
For Taj life has got harder.
It is now the smaller of the two firms, with a market cap of only 600m, from a peak of 2.6 billion.
It is losing money and is almost as leveraged as Orient was at its nadir, measured by net debt relative to gross operating profits.
The boom inIndiahas faded.
Intense competition from global chains has lowered room rates.
Taj's adventures inAmerica—it owns The Pierre inNew York, for example—have also strained its finances.
Taj could not have made the 2012 bid without help from its parent group.
It also roped in a minority partner, a fund linked to Luca di Montezemolo, the chairman of Ferrari.
Perhaps Tata's new boss, Cyrus Mistry, who took over from the patriarch Ratan Tata at the end of 2012, has taken a tougher stance.
在2012年年底从元老Ratan Tata那接手塔塔之子集团，成为了新老板的Cyrus Mistry可能已经采取了更加强硬地立场。
About two-thirds of the capital employed in the wider Tata group is making a post-tax return on capital of 10% or less, according to calculations by The Economist.
Taj hotels is a small part of this underperformance but Mr Mistry may have insisted that it gets its own house in order before it does any more empire-building.
Just as Taj's problem may in part have been a forgiving controlling shareholder, Orient has also been insulated from shareholders' wrath.
Its B shares act as a poison-pill structure that puts voting control in the hands of the firm, not its owners.
As both firms have battled the business climate and each other, they have missed a half-decade of change in the industry.
Global hoteliers such as Starwood and InterContinental have performed far better.
They have asset light business models, in which they merely manage hotels rather than owning them.
They have multiple brands aimed at different kinds of customers.
Taj has experimented with this approach but has been timid, and Orient-Express is still an old-school affair.
Both hotel groups specialise in historic buildings that are lovingly maintained.
Both need to do more to avoid becoming ancient monuments themselves.
1.check in 记录，登记签到
Can I check in here?
Where can I check in?
2.low point 低点
The population density reached a low point in 1650.
This year marked a low point for berlusconi.
3.link to 与…连接，联系
Just send them a link to the google docs file.
Each sentence is followed by a link to the source.
4.according to 根据，按照；据…所说
Again this is according to recently declassified information.
It did not go according to plan.