ISLAMABAD, Feb 19: The government has "held in abeyance" dis investment process of The Roosevelt hotel owned by the PIA Investment Limited (PIAIL), an associated undertaking of the national flag carrier, documents obtained by Dawn reveal.

The action is reported to have been taken at the request of Saudi Arabia's Prince Faisal bin Khalid who holds 50 per cent shares in The Roosevelt. The documents reveal that the PIAIL wanted to sell the hotel on a "priority basis to repay the loans obtained by the PIA".

In order to raise the much needed cash for the PIA the management has now decided to sell another prime property, Hotel Scribe in Paris, an official said. According to the documents, the decision to auction The Roosevelt was approved after an amount of $65 million was spent on renovation of its "1040 classically furnished rooms."

According to the sales documents, The Roosevelt had a net operating income of a little more than $12 million in 2002. The net income had come down immediately after the 9/11 incident; the hotel earned a profit of $29 million in 2000 with an 84 per cent occupancy rate.

According to the PIA, the renovation at a cost of $65 million not only recaptured the original inspired interiors but also restored The Roosevelt to its 1920s splendour and "status as one of Madison Avenue's finest hotels".

Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, the 22-story hotel occupies a full block bounded by Madison and Vanderbilt avenues and 45th and 46th streets, just south of the Bear Stearns Building. The Roosevelt is a lucrative Pakistani asset in the heart of one of the world's economic capitals.

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