Billionaire Ambani invests $217M in Oberoi and Trident hotels

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd.

Billionaire Ambani invests $217M in Oberoi and Trident hotels

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. acquired a stake in India’s luxury Oberoi hotel chain, his seventh investment this year as he diversifies from the oil and gas industry that made him Asia’s richest man.

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Reliance Industries, operator of the world’s biggest refinery complex, agreed to pay 10.2 billion rupees ($217 million) for a 14.12 percent stake in EIH Ltd., which runs the Oberoi and Trident hotels, according to a statement yesterday.

The chain includes the Oberoi Vanyavilas, which topped the 2010 list of world’s best hotels in a readers’ poll by Travel + Leisure magazine, along with a Mumbai hotel which was damaged in the November 2008 terror attack. The fastest pace of economic growth in 2 1/2 years in India is bolstering demand for services, providing alternative sources of revenue as Reliance’s main energy business slows.

“The push is to get into services and diversify their revenue sources from being a pure manufacturing company,” said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, chief strategist at SMC Capitals Ltd. in New Delhi. “Telecom and hospitality are a reflection of India’s growth story.”

Ambani, 53, has invested more than $1.2 billion in a broadband company and a cargo carrier and has announced plans to build hospitals, universities and set up a sports marketing company.

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