Sahara averts foreclosure auction of US hotel properties

PTI New York | Updated on January 27, 2018 Published on March 26, 2016

File photo of Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy.   -  Reuters

The foreclosure auction of iconic Plaza and trendy Dream Downtown properties was to take place in April.

In a major relief, Sahara Group has got time till June to avoid any foreclosure auction of its two marquee hotel properties here by mortgage holders Reuben Brothers, who had extended a USD 900 million loan refinance facility to the embattled Indian group.

The billionaire investors David and Simon Reuben were reportedly earlier looking at a foreclosure auction in April to recover their facility which they had provided to Sahara Group to refinance an earlier loan from Bank of China that had overseas hotels of the Indian group as collaterals and cross collaterals.

Sources said Sahara has now been given time till June by Reuben Brothers.

When contacted, a Sahara spokesperson confirmed the development but did not elaborate.

Query sent to Reuben Brothers did not elicit any immediate response.

Reportedly, the foreclosure auction of iconic Plaza and trendy Dream Downtown properties was to take place in April.

Sahara Group has been making efforts to raise funds including through refinancing of loans on these two hotels as also on the historic Grosvenor House property in London, to ensure release of its chief Subrata Roy from jail. He has been lodged in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail for over two years.

In March 2015, Bank of China had put Grosvenor House under “administration” for recovery of its loans after the lender 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 the two prime hotels in New York — from Bank of China was “cross collateralised and cross guaranteed”.

Subsequently, Sahara reached a USD 900 million (over Rs 5,500 crore) refinancing deal with Reuben brothers and averted the ‘default-triggered’ sale of Grosvenor House hotel property.

Grosvenor House, a landmark property on Park Lane in London that was designed by acclaimed architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, was purchased by Saharas in 2010. The two hotels in the US were purchased later.

The three hotels were acquired between 2010 and 2012 at an estimated valuation of USD 1.55 billion. Market experts peg their current valuation at upwards of USD 2.2 billion.

Sahara group has been engaged in a legal battle with markets regulator Sebi for a long time over a case involving raising of funds from investors to the tune of over Rs 24,000 crore. Sahara, however, claims it has already repaid 95 per cent of the investors’ money directly.

Last month, a Sahara spokesperson had said that SEBI so far has been able to refund around Rs 50 crore to the investors.

The 109-year-old Plaza in New York is situated off Central Park and its ownership has changed hands several times, while currently Sahara group has about 75 per cent and the remaining 25 per cent is with Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal of Saudi Arabia.

In the past, its owners included real estate tycoon and the current US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who got married to his second wife Marla Maples in this hotel.

The hotel, which has 282 rooms in addition to several condos, restaurants and shops, have hosted the famous Plaza Accord to devalue the US dollar in 1985.

In the long-running case, the Supreme Court had ordered Sahara in August 2012 to deposit with Sebi over Rs 24,000 crore collected from nearly three crore investors through issuance of certain bonds.

Sahara was also asked to give SEBI the entire sets of investor documents for verification so that the money can be refunded to genuine investors.

Published on March 26, 2016

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!


Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.