In an interesting turn of events, crisis-hit Sahara has entered the fray for buying its own Grosvenor House hotel, which was put on sale by its lender Bank of China after a 'technical default'.
The Indian group has been trying to raise funds to secure release of its chief Subrata Roy, who has been lodged in Tihar Jail for over a year, through monetisation of its various assets including the iconic London hotel.
Sources said that Sahara group is still negotiating a 'refinancing' deal to transfer the Bank of China loans to some other lender, while it has also entered the bidding fray for Grosvenor House through a 'financier' backed by some global banks to ensure a better valuation of the property. Other bidders are said to be Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, China's Fosun Group, Constellation Hotels Holding and M&G Prudential.
While a Sahara spokesperson declined to comment on the matter, sources said that the group is working with a 'two-way strategy' to ensure that it gets necessary funds to be deposited for Roy's release and also retains the control of the hotel it had purchased in 2010. Bank of China put Grosvenor House under "administration" early in March for recovery of its loans, while Deloitte and realty consultant JLL have been mandated to find a buyer. JLL did not reply to queries in this regard, while no comments could be obtained from Deloitte as well.
Earlier in March, Sahara Group had said it was working on a refinancing transaction to repay the loans to Bank of China and regain control of the iconic property. Sahara had also said that the London hotel was 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, The Plaza and Dream Downtown in New York is "cross collateralized and cross guaranteed". Sahara had 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 Sahara's fund-raising plans.