Sahara group tells Supreme Court it is not selling overseas properties

New Delh: Sahara Group on Monday told the Supreme Court that it was not selling its three overseas hotels, Grosvenor House Hotel in London, the New York Plaza and Dream New York hotels and alleged that some entities are “looking to grab these properties”.

“We will develop these properties. All these persons are looking to grab these properties. These properties including the London property have a huge potential,” senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Group, submitted before a bench headed by Justice T S Thakur.

The submission by Sibal came during the hearing of the separate applications moved by Kane Capital Partners Limited, a Britain-based property developer and financier and US-based investment banker, Madison Capital Holding LLC, expressing their willingness to buy properties in London and America respectively.

The hearing also saw cropping up of the name of former Indian Premier League (IPL) chief Lalit Modi allegedly brokering a deal to sell the US properties of Sahara Group.

The lawyer, appearing for Madison Capital, said jailed Sahara Group Chief Subrata Roy’s 40-year-old son Sushanto Roy “orally” had asked Lalit Modi for help in selling off US properties which the former IPL boss had put at USD 965 million.

After, the bench confirmed with the lawyer that it was the same Modi of IPL fame, it asked Sibal “are you (Sahara) selling these properties?”

Sibal replied in the negative and said there are already two offers to develop these properties which will fetch around USD six million, equivalent to around Rs 36,000 crore.

He supplied the documents and the memorandum of understanding signed with some of those entities in a sealed cover and said “these are serious offers” and “hopefully, we will give some good news in next 7-10 days before the scheduled hearing on September 14.”

“We will not allow these properties to go out of hand,” he submitted before the bench, also comprising Justices A R Dave and A K Sikri which also extended the facilities to Roy in Tihar jail till September end to negotiate the deals.

The Sahara group informed the court that the loan on hotels that was given by Bank of China has been taken over by Reuben Brothers whose main activities are in real estate, private equity, and venture capitalism.

Taking on record the submission, the bench said Sahara Group shall file in a sealed cover the mortgage deed executed in favour of Bank of China and arrangement made between the Bank of China and the Reuben Brothers.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, said before going further it was required to ascertain the citizenship of the Reuben Brothers.

However, Sibal said they are famous investment bankers and pleaded the court that “don’t let them run away” as after great difficulty negotiations with them have taken place.

He said no Indian bank was ready to furnish bank guarantee, one of the conditions put for the release of Roy and, therefore, Sahara Group was working hard to arrange the entire money in cash.

At the outset, senior advocate Subramanium Prasad, appearing for Kane Capital Partners Limited, said the UK firm was ready to pay Rs 6,500 crore for the London property in seven days.

However, Sibal, while placing the confidential documents before the bench, elaborated that USD 1.75 billion deal is in offering for one property while another USD 3.25 billion for two US properties.

For the interim bail of 67-year-old Roy, the court had put conditions like depositing Rs 5,000 crore in cash and a bank guarantee of equal amount and tough terms including payment of the entire Rs 36,000 crore, which includes interest, in 18 months to SEBI-Sahara account. The money will be paid back to the investors of Sahara.

Roy is in jail since March 4, 2014 with two other directors of Sahara companies — Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary.