Inside the Sahara deal: Investors from US, UK behind Mirach Capital

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Jan 18, 2015 02:37 IST

Subrata Roy’s Florida savior, Mirach Capital, came up with $1.5 billion just a few weeks after birth only because it’s backed by a group of wealthy families from the Americas and UK, according to Saransh Sharma, the public face of the group, and a part investor.

They don’t want the limelight just yet because they fear it could jeopardise the deal, as it has in the past, Sharma said in an interview over phone from India. “When the deal goes through completely — in the next 30 to 45 days — their names and identities will become public without a doubt.”

Some of these investors had shown interest earlier, but found their chances jeopardised by leaks about who they were. They are being careful this time, sheltering behind anonymity.

Sharma, 34, insisted he was the only one in the group of investors with a connection to India — “the only India face”, as he put it. There was no other Indian connection.

Sharma was born and raised in Oman, came to the US when he was 17, and stayed on, getting into stocks eventually.

The money, all of $1.5 billion, is already in an escrow account — a holding operation — ready to move to prearranged destinations once the paperwork was completed, Sharma claimed.

Hindustan Times was not able to independently verify this or other claims about investors, and the source of Mirach’s funding.

Around $800 million will go to Bank of China to pay off a debt taken by Roy, and rest to Sahara to make the bail amount needed to get Roy out of Tihar, where he has been since March.

Roy had special permission to negotiate the sale of his assets from an air-conditioned room in Tihar, with access to two computers with internet connection and mobiles.

On the block were Sahara’s iconic The Plaza and Dream Downtown in New York, Grosvenor House in London, Sahara Star in Mumbai and Aamby Valley resorts.

Sharma, who described himself as an “investment banker at heart”, said he first got interested in the Sahara properties in July. He was approached by one of the investors, joined by the other later.

Sharma’s first offer, in July, was $1.3 billion.

Roy preferred to refinance the assets, and hold on to them rather than lose them in a sale. Sharma backed out, but noted that the Sahara boss was not really after money, only.

“I noticed stubbornness, ego, pride in the middle of the story — pride asking for a graceful exit — he seemed tired of being in jail and he wanted to leave jail, and limelight, gracefully.”

Roy’s moods or intentions could not be independently verified.

But Sharma was confident of his reading of the situation, and returned with an offer he knew Roy would like — because it gave him the soft-landing he needed.

Sharma’s next offer was a loan to help Sahara boss tide over his present problems — get out of his Bank of China debt and, more importantly, make bail, and leave jail.

Roy listened this time, and met with Sharma nine times, in Tihar.

But it’s not over yet. The investors have a plan for whenever the deal is done: the assets will be divvied up three ways, consequent on the ethnicity of the investor.

The investor from the Americas will likely want, and get control over the New York Plaza and Dream Downtown. And the British buyer would like to keep Grosvenor House.

That would leave Sahara Star and Aamby Valley. Sharma is willing to keep them for a while only to offload them at the best price he can get, and he has independent evaluations.

also read

Tata Vs Mistry: Love of a plan
Show comments