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Sahara's Grosvenor House put on sale; may fetch Rs 5,000 crore


London/New Delhi, Mar 3: In fresh troubles for crisis-hit Sahara, its over Rs 5,000-crore worth Grosvenor House hotel has been put on sale by the lender Bank of China after a default, which the group attributed to certain "technical breaches".

Sahara Group, which has been trying to raise funds to secure release of its chief Subrata Roy, said it is working on a refinancing transaction to repay the loans to Bank of China and regain control of the iconic property.

Sahara's Subrata Roy

Sahara said that the London hotel is being "treated under default" because Bank of China has declared "an event of default" on the US loans due to some "technical breaches" in the financial covenants.

The loan on Sahara's three hotels -- Grosvenor House in the UK and two other prime hotels (The Plaza and Dream Downtown) in New York -- from Bank of China is "cross collateralised and cross guaranteed".

Bank of China put Grosvenor House under "administration" last night for recovery of its loans, while Deloitte and realty consultant JLL have been mandated to find a buyer.

Sahara, which has been trying to raise funds to secure release of its chief Subrata Roy from jail, further said that the debt servicing for the UK and US loans "has always been completely proper and timely".

The three overseas hotels have been at the centre of these fund-raising plans. According to sources, Sahara group's fresh refinancing arrangements involve getting a fresh loan from the three properties.

A part of the proceeds would be given to Bank of China for release of Grosvenor House from "administration", while the remainder could be deposited with Sebi to secure release of Roy and two other top officials from Tihar Jail, where they have been lodged for a full year now.

Grosvenor House, a landmark property on Park Lane here that was designed by acclaimed architect Sir Edwin Luytens of New Delhi, was purchased by Saharas in 2010.

The two hotels in the US were purchased later. All the three hotels were acquired between 2010-2012 at an estimated valuation of USD 1.55 billion.

Market experts peg their current valuation at upwards of USD 2.2 billion, after taking into account the appreciation in their values.

The group has been engaged in a legal battle with Indian markets regulator Sebi for a long time over repayment of investor dues totalling over Rs 20,000 crore. Sahara, however, claims it has already repaid 95 per cent of the investors directly.


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