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Sahara buy to put India in the heart of London

world Updated: Jan 01, 2011 22:45 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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The New Year is all set to usher in a distinctly colourful Indian look in the heart of the British capital after Sahara India Pariwar, the new owners of Grosvenor House, said the iconic London hotel will host Bollywood-style weddings.

The Grosvenor House on Park Lane is no stranger to India and Indians. It has long been a favourite with wealthy Indian visitors, and its glittering Great Room was the venue for the largest official celebrations of India's 50th anniversary of independence in Britain.

Now, Sahara India Pariwar, which on Thursday announced the purchase of the Grosvenor House for £470 million from the Royal Bank of Scotland, has plans to turn the Great Room into Europe's leading venue for lavish Indian weddings, a British newspaper reported.

The Great Room, one of the largest ballrooms in Europe, can seat up to 2,000 guests. Overlooking Hyde Park in central London, the hotel has hosted countless numbers of celebrities, including members of royalties, since it opened its doors in 1929. The new owners also reportedly plan to open an Indian restaurant in the hotel.

Sahara's purchase of the Grosvenor (pronounced Grove-ner) caps a decade of Indian acquisitions of iconic British brands. The process began in 2000 when the Tata Group acquired Tetley Tea, a household name in Britain, for £271 million. Other high-profile British brands that have been snapped up by Indians since then include the motorcars Jaguar and Land Rover.

On Thursday, Sahara Group chairman Subrata Roy said, "This acquisition is a part of the major expansion plans of the group... (it) ... will be the gateway for Sahara to introduce some of its new business ventures internationally."