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Kerala firm in talks to expand hotel brand in Saudi, Oman

Kerala-based diversified business group Samana Global Business Solutions is in talks with an Oman-based hospitality major for a possible acquisition of a hotel property in the sultanate.

Samana, which currently operates a 100-room hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh under its brand Apollo Dimora, is also in talks with the developers of a Makkah and Madina-based four-star hotel property to operate and manage the hotel under its brand.

Confirming the developments, Sabith Koramba, group executive director of Samana, told Arabian Business that the group has received a proposal from an Oman-based hotel for a possible acquisition and said that the company is “seriously looking at it”.

“The talks (with the promoters of the Oman hotel) are in an early stage currently. We have not discussed any numbers yet,” he added.

Through the Apollo Dimora brand, Samana currently operates a 4-star hotel in Trivandrum and has three other hotel projects coming up in Calicut, Chennai and Bangalore.

The plans for a hotel acquisition in Oman and a management contract for a hotel in Makkah-Madina is part of a major expansion programme planned by the Samana group for its hospitality business.

“We currently have a total of about 400 rooms in our hotel business and we have set a target of increasing it to 1,000 rooms by 2020,” Koramba said.

UAE expansion plan

The expansion plan in the hospitality business of Samana group will also include hotels in Dubai and other cities in UAE.

“Dubai and some other locations in UAE are on our radar for the proposed expansion plans. These are, however, still in the planning stage,” Koramba said.

The group is still deciding whether to go with a local hotel partner in the UAE or to introduce the brand under through management contracts, he added.

Funding

A major chunk of the financing required for the proposed expansion plans in the group’s hospitality business is expected to come from the proceeds of the $560 million Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) – SGF 2020 – which the group has launched last month in India and Abu Dhabi.

Samana has tied up with IBMC UAE to float a feeder fund in Abu Dhabi to tap investors from GCC and other international markets for the $560 million AIF and is in talks with sovereign wealth funds, family offices and other large fund houses in the Gulf to invest in the fund.

Besides hospitality, Samana also operates businesses in the healthcare, real estate and information technology sectors.

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