VIDEO: President Trump wants to buy PIA’s Roosevelt Hotel in New York City
The PIA-owned 19-story hotel with 1,025 rooms plus allied facilities in New York is considered a valuable property that carries cultural significance for Pakistan as well.
A high-ranking Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) official on Wednesday informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Privatisation that US President Donald J. Trump has shown an interest in buying the Roosevelt hotel, located in New York’s Manhattan borough.
At the outset of the meeting, PML-N’s Khwaja Asif inquired from PIA officials as to whether anyone had shown an eagerness in purchasing the property.
At this, the PIA’s Investment Limited Managing Director, Najeeb Sami, revealed that the US president “is still showing interest in The Roosevelt.”
In his meeting with the committee, Sami said that Roosevelt is a three-star hotel that had been profitable for almost 99 years. Nevertheless, the hotel endured a loss of $1.5 million last year, Sami added. He said it was not profitable for PIA to run the whole hotel by itself, and it should, consequently, be replaced with hotels and offices.
“It has been determined to give Roosevelt hotel on lease on a long-term basis,” Sami told the lawmakers.
Formerly this month, the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) had expressed against selling off the Roosevelt and to manage it through a joint venture alternatively.
The CCoP had instructed the Privatisation Commission to appoint a financial adviser to start the procedure for the transaction a report by the accounting firm Deloitte from July 2019, suggested that “the highest and finest use of the Roosevelt Hotel property is to renew the site into a mixed-use property (through a joint venture) of primarily an office tower over retail and condominium.”
Asif said, while his party did not oppose privatization “at all,” this wasn’t a suitable time to privatize any entity as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused market prices of nearly everything to plunge.
He said the defined rights of employees should be preserved whenever privatization is carried out, and they should be provided with sufficient funds to start their own businesses. People who possess real-estate companies abroad should not be made part of the body deciding the hotel’s destiny as it could lead to corruption, Asif added.
The Privatisation Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro briefed the committee that various options were currently being looked into concerning the fate of the Roosevelt, adding that a financial adviser will take the decision regarding leasing out the hotel.
The PIA-owned 19-story hotel with 1,025 rooms plus allied facilities in New York is considered a valuable property that carries cultural significance for Pakistan as well. It has persisted in the news for the last few years over its proposed auction. Nevertheless, the management of PIA in the past had always denied the claims of the sale.
The Roosevelt was obtained by PIA Investment Limited on lease during 1979 with an option to acquire the property. The airline had bought the hotel for $36.5 million against a demand of $59.5m by challenging a lawsuit against the owner in 1999. The hotel has been run by Interstate Hotels & Resorts since 1997.
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