Grosvenor House Hotel being sold to Qatar, Sahara tells SC

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New Delhi, Feb 2 (IANS) The Sahara group on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it was selling its Grosvenor House Hotel in London to Qatar and was in talk with a state-owned Russian bank for refinancing its two hotels in New York – New York Plaza and Dream New York hotel.

A bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice A.K.Sikri was informed that sale of Grosvenor House Hotel would fetch Rs.3,000 crore which would be paid to market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) towards the payment of Rs.10,000 crores as directed by the apex court on March 26, 2014.

Of Rs.10,000 crore – Rs.5,000 crore are in cash and Rs.5,000 crore in bank guarantees, Sahara has to pay SEBI will be a part payment of investors money that Sahara had raised from the market in 2008 and 2009. It is also a condition for release of Sahara chief Subrata Roy and two director – Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary – who are in Tihar Jail since March 4, 2014.

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Appearing for Roy, senior counsel Kapil Sibal sought the court’s nod for disposing off its four small aircrafts, the Sahara Star hotel in Mumbai, its stakes in Force India Formula One Team and two properties in Bengaluru to mobilise the money. Sahara had in 2011 picked up 42.5 percent stake in the Formula One Team which was thereafter rechristened as Sahara Force India Formula One Team.

The court inquired if the four aircraft that Sahara intends to sell were in airworthy condition or grounded, and Sibal said that Sahara can’t sell these assets without its permission.

As court expressed its unhappiness over the way things were going, he told the court about the difficulties beging faced by his client. “Nobody wants to buy them. When one hears SEBI-Sahara (litigation in the apex court), no body wants to touch them,” he said, seeking to explain the difficulties being faced by the group in complying with the court’s orders.

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Apparently displeased with the state of affairs, the court refused to, for now, extend the communication facilities that were extended to Roy to speak to prospective buyers of his hotels in London and New York.

The apex court March 26, 2014 had said Sahara Group will deposit Rs.10,000 crore as part payment of investors’ Rs.24,000 crore that its two companies – Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Limited – had collected through optionally fully convertible debentures as a condition for the release of Roy, Dubey and Choudhary.

The apex court by its August 31, 2012 order had directed the Sahara to return investors money with 15 percent interest.

According to SEBI counsel the amount that Sahara has now to return has touched Rs. 36,000 crore.

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