India's Sahara may sell U.S., UK hotels for $1.3B

(Grosvenor House)

It looks like the Sahara Group deal with UK-based investment firm 3 Associates could be back on track.

Last week, India's Sahara Group, which has faced numerous financial hurdles in recent years, was offered $1.3 billion for its three international hotels: the Grosvenor House in London and the Plaza and Dream Hotels in New York City. The offer reportedly came from a consortium of investors that includes Jesdev Saggar-led 3 Associates and others from the Middle East. The Sahara Group rejected the deal, claiming that the offer was too low.

In the latest turn of events, 3 Associates Capital Management has informed India's Supreme Court that it intends to buy Sahara’s stake in the hotels, and has already deposited $1 billion in an Abu Dhabi escrow account. 

Sahara group chief Subrata Roy’s lawyer Kapil Sibal confirmed that negotiations are under way with 3 Associates, but expressed the group’s displeasure with the 3 Associates Capital Management’s proposal, saying that the bid was too low.

“At this rate, it will take 20 years for Sahara to repay its investors,” chief justice T.S. Thakur observed.

Meanwhile, a bench comprising chief justice Thakur, justices Anil R. Dave and A.K. Sikri extended group chief Subrata Roy’s parole till September 16 on the condition that an additional Rs.300 crore be deposited with the court by September—an extension on the just-passed original August 3 deadline.

Sibal told the court that Roy is confident that investors will be repaid within a year and a half. Sahara has been in negotiations for the sale of its overseas hotels for close to three years.

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India told the court that eight of Sahara’s properties have been sold for a total of Rs.196 crore.