Following a lengthy period of hibernation, corporate players are again active on the Bombay property scene,as a group of multinational property giants flex their muscles. Sagging real estate prices in the past 18 months have battered several corporate property players, including Lloyds Realty and Videocon Properties. But deals are said to be moving again. Two prime projects have been secured by recent entrants into the property arena - Godrej Properties and Investments (GPIL) - part of the privately owned Godrej group; and ITC Hotels, a subsidiary of the multinational tobacco giant ITC. GPIL, which was formed in 1990, has floated two projects in Bombay, one at a prime location on the Worli Seaface, and another at Parel, the former heart of the city's textile industry. The Worli project is a 20-storey, upmarket apartment complex, with each apartment priced above 40 million Indian rupees (about HK$8.6 million). Work on the 27-storey Parel apartment building is yet to be launched. GPIL is in the process of looking for a suitable builder. 'We are gradually moving to places like Thane, and even to cities like Madras, Bangalore and Calcutta,' GPIL's assistant marketing manager Shamik Nag said. 'We are avoiding Bombay's western suburbs, where the land mafia is very active.' In the other project, ITC Hotels has entered an agreement with the Hiranandani group, one of Bombay's major real estate developers, to set up its first five-star deluxe hotel in the city. The hotel will be near Sahar airport, close to the five-star Hotel Leela Kempinski. ITC, which runs hotels under the umbrella name Welcomgroup, has a property at Bandra Land's End, the Hotel Searock. This is a four-star hotel, and the contract is said to have run into difficulty over legal disputes between ITC and the owners, the Lutheria family. As far as the new Sahar venture is concerned, ITC is not buying the land from the Hiranandanis. Instead, the builders will be asked to construct the 300-room hotel and then transfer it to ITC's books. The hotel will therefore not become an ITC property until 2000. Meanwhile, two of Hong Kong's most respected property giants - Colliers Jardine and Brooke Hillier Parker - are gearing up to increase their business prospects in Bombay. Colliers Jardine recently handled a 800 million rupee deal in Bandra for the Shahs, owners of Mayfair Housing. The multinationals provide real estate services which include land brokerage, research, asset management, property management and valuation services. Some also act as 'escrows' and property consultants. Their launch of operations in India was facilitated by most of them linking up with reputed Indian corporates, in an effort to gain instant market recognition. Colliers Jardine, which was the first entrant into the Indian market, solicited token equity stakes of 1.5 million rupees each from the Housing Development Finance Corp (HDFC) and the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS). Two British-headquartered property consultants, Richard Ellis and Knight Frank also are operating in the country. Knight Frank has tied up with the Great Eastern Shipping Co, while Richard Ellis has registered an office in Mauritius and entered India as a branch.