Hotels Armenia Ani Sold to Diasporans

YEREVAN (Reuters–Itar-Tass)–Two hotels–Armenia and Ani–part of a high-profile set of state assets announced for sale last year–were sold to two groups of US investors of Armenian origin–Industry and Trade Minister Garnik Nanagoulian said Monday.

Nanagoulian told a news conference an 80 percent stake in Hotel Armenia was sold to one group for $8 million with the AK Development company dealing with the Armenian government on behalf of the group.

Under the terms of the tender–the new owner must pump $22 million into the reconstruction of the hotel–which should be finished by 2001. Nanagoulian said the remaining state-owned 20 percent stake could be purchased in two years for $2 million.

He said that the Marriot International Corporation had been chosen to manage the Armenia Hotel by AK Development.

The AK Development company is run by Armenian businessmen from Boston–Nshan Atinizyan and Paul Karyan who build and lease facilities for supermarkets. The new owners of the hotel are ready to promote tourism in Armenia and turn the hotel into a business and conference center.

The new owners said they aimed to make Armenia a high-grade luxury hotel to correspond with the criteria set by Marriot and teach local Armenia’s hotel businesses and services so that the hotel guest enjoy the Armenian traditional hospitality. The buyers thanked the Armenian government for the professional approach in the privatization of the hotel.

Marriot–which runs 1,700 facilities in 53 countries–thanked the Armenian government for confidence and noted. It is ready to help to Armenian economic revival and ensure a high level of services in the hotel.

Hotel Armenia–which used to belong to the Soviet Intourist company–was built in 1958 and became a monument of Armenian architecture. It is part of the architectural image of the Lenin square–which was named the Republic square after Armenia became independent.

The Government House–the House of Communications–the Parliament–the former building of the Economics Department and the State History Museum with a picture gallery are located on the square.

Another hotel–Hotel Ani–was sold off to another group of US investors of Armenian origin for $4.0 million with a company called ANI Enterprises dealing on behalf of that group.

Investment in the reconstruction of the hotel has been set at $10 million.

Merrill Lynch was acting as adviser to the government on the sales.

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