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Kenya Govt to offload stakes in resorts

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – The government\’s shares in the Hilton and Intercontinental hotels are topping a list of its stake in 13 resorts that have been earmarked for sale. 

Tourism Minister Najib Balala says the decision to sell the hotels was reached upon after careful deliberations with the Ministry of Finance.

“The government has very little shares in these hotels and is not in control of their management. So we saw it fit to off load our shares,” he said on Monday.

At the same time Mr Balala dispelled any fears the hotels would be disposed off in a controversial manner as was the case with Grand Regency now called Laico Regency, in the Libyan saga.

Mr Balala assured: “My ministry is going to liaison with treasury to ensure the hotels are correctly valued and we actually get their true worth.”

The government has a 40 percent share in the Hilton and a 33.8 percent stake in the Intercontinental.

Other hotels that have been shortlisted for sale include Voi Safari Lodge, Mombasa Beach Hotel, Ngulla Safari Lodge and Golf Hotel in Kakamega.

The Kenya Tourist Development Corporation (KTDC) which is a government development fund that finances construction of hospitality facilities holds varying stakes in the hotels on behalf of the state.

There are indications that KTDC could merge all the hotels into one unit then sell it through an Initial Public Offer.

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Experts say the sale of the hotels by Treasury could be measures to raise funds to fill the huge budget deficit that has been mushrooming in the wake of the global financial meltdown.

But Mr Balala said the monies raised from the sale of the hotels would be utilised to market Kenya as a tourist destination.

“We would like to reinvest part of the money to finance a major marketing campaign that would showcase Kenya to the rest of the world,” the Minister said.

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