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Five distinguished international business leaders have become new members of the British Travel Industry Hall of Fame.
The members for 2012 are: Geoffrey Kent, founder and executive chairman of Abercrombie & Kent; Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group; Kurt Ritter, president and chief executive of Rezidor Hotel Group; Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean Cruises; and Sir Brian Souter, chief executive and co-founder of Stagecoach Group. The five were invited to join the prestigious Hall of Fame membership because they have been responsible for creating major and highly successful organisations in the global travel and hospitality industry. They will be honoured at the Hall of Fame annual dinner on 17 April at The Savoy, London. The Hall of Fame was created in 1995 by Kingley Event Management and honours outstanding achievement in the British travel, tourism and hospitality industries.
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua hotel in Hawaii, a luxury ski resort in the Rockies and a Manhattan boutique hotel are among the last holdings of Lehman Brothers, the investment house whose spectacular bust triggered the worst of the 2008 financial crisis.
The bank said Tuesday that it will begin unloading its stakes in those properties in April as it prepares to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and finally meet its end. Lehman's $639 billion bankruptcy remains the largest in U.S. history. It went under on Sept. 15, 2008, the same week that the government rescued AIG and the $700 billion bailout for major banks was conceived. The bankruptcy marked the demise of a company that had survived the Civil War and the Depression. Lehman has spent three and a half years in bankruptcy court, negotiating with the creditors who loaned it billions of dollars to make large bets on investments from apartment buildings, hotels and luxury resorts to complex financial instruments. Lehman said it has already raised $30 billion since its bankruptcy by selling its stake in a tony Manhattan property known as the Toy Building because it housed toy manufacturers from around the globe. It also sold Whistler Blackcomb, a ski resort in Canada that was one of the venues for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. Now the company says it stands to raise $35 billion more by selling the rest of its assets. Among them are the 404-room Ritz Carlton in Hawaii and the Moonlight Basin resort in Montana, a luxurious ski, golf and spa resort. They are the choice baubles from a not-so-distant gilded age. "These items capture the euphoria of the times when banks got swept up in the speculative bubble," said Bert Ely, president of Ely & Co., a banking consulting firm. The money from the sales beginning in April will go to Lehman's creditors. Among them are people with retirement money managed by the California Public Employees' Retirement System, large banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and hedge funds.
India plans to build a replica of Angkor Wat, the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cambodia.
A Hindu trust is sponsoring the project, which will cost an estimated US$20 million, on a 40-acre plot of land in the eastern state of Bihar, according to AFP. "It will be a replica of Angkor Wat but the temple will be slightly taller than the original," said Kishore Kunal, secretary of the Bihar Mahavir Mandir Trust. The trust's secretary, Acharya Kishore Kunal, told the BBC that the temple "will be known as Virat Angkor Wat Ram temple but will also house other Hindu deities like Radha-Krishna, Shiv-Parvati, Ganesh, Surya and 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
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