Subrata told to get a new bailout, US saviour returns fee

  • Bhadra Sinha and Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, New Delhi / Washington
  • Updated: Feb 12, 2015 01:20 IST

The Supreme Court Wednesday asked Sahara to submit fresh suggestions on raising funds on its property after the collapse of a $2-billion loan deal with Mirach Capital Group. Making the break official, the US-based debt fund returned the $2.65-million fee paid by Sahara to process the deal, but kept its offer of buying out the company’s three overseas hotels open.

An SC bench sought a fresh proposal after senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, who is assisting it in the case, advised the same. He also informed the court the deal was off amid conflicting claims by the two parties.

The agreement fell through last week after the Bank of America declared that a letter purportedly written by it and intended to show that Mirach had enough funds for the deal was forged. Mirach denied forging the letter while Sahara claimed it had been “cheated”.

Under the deal, Mirach was to pay off Sahara’s loans with the Bank of China for the purchase of the hotels and help it make the $1.6 billion (Rs. 10,000 cr) bail amount needed to free its chief Subrata Roy — in Tihar jail since March 2014 for disobeying an SC order to refund billions of dollars collected through investment schemes declared invalid.

Mirach CEO Saransh Sharma told HT that he was returning the diligence fee — advanced by Sahara to Mirach on January 5, two weeks after the two executed a letter of intent to pursue the loan offer — chiefly to establish his own credibility in light of the forgery allegations. But in a letter to Arvind Datar, the SC-appointed amicus curiae, he said he was returning the money as the loan deal was over.

“Mirach has consistently stated its desire to be as compliant with SEBI (market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India) and the honourable Supreme Court’s orders. Therefore, given that the loan transaction is no longer in effect between Sahara and Mirach, we have decided to return every penny deposited by Sahara towards the undertaking of the loan transaction and its related due diligence costs,” he said.

However, Sharma added, Mirach and its investors remained interested in an outright purchase of Sahara’s Plaza and Dream Downtown hotels in New York and Grosvenor House in London and hopeful of a “fair outcome” on February 20, when the SC is expected to decide if Sahara needs more time to find new buyers.

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