The embattled Sahara group has extended the bidding deadline for sale of its 30 properties till May 20 as prospective buyers, which include Tatas, Godrej and Adani, have sought more time to complete due diligence. Top consultant Knight Frank is auctioning the properties, estimated to be worth about Rs 7,400 crore for Sahara, which was asked by the Supreme Court to sell the assets. Sources said the land parcels and other assets have generated huge interest among the prospective buyers, which also include Patanjali group, several real estate developers including Omaxe and Eldeco, as also HNIs and even a PSU. Besides, Chennai-based Apollo Hospital has shown interest in acquiring Sahara Hospital in Lucknow.
While more than 250 expressions of interest (EOIs) were received by Knight Frank India, sources said the interested parties have sought more time to complete due diligence and other formalities before submission of final bids which necessitated the extension of deadline. When contacted, a Sahara spokesperson confirmed that the deadline has been extended. “In view of the demand from prospective buyers for extra time to complete the due diligence, we have extended the timelines to May 20, 2017,” the spokesperson said in reply to a PTI query.
There has been apprehensions that the valuation could get impacted due to a hurry in getting the deals closed within a short time because of an urgency on part of Saharas to get the money and deposit the same with regulator Sebi as per the Supreme Court’s directions. “The advertisement got an overwhelming response. Over 250 EOIs have been received. EOIs have been received for all sites with majority of sites having multiple EOIs,” Knight Frank India had earlier said.
“The process is an intense one that constitutes due diligence, site inspections, financial bids and shall culminate on finalisation of successful bidder,” it added. On February 28, the Supreme Court had allowed Sahara to sell certain properties after market regulator Sebi found it difficult to auction them even with the help of specialised agencies. Sahara sought six months’ time for the sale, but the court had asked them to complete the process in six weeks for properties worth about Rs 5,092 crore. Sahara subsequently appointed Knight Frank for carrying out the sale process and advertisements were issued in newspapers twice to invite prospective buyers.
Knight Frank was asked to complete the sale by April 13 to meet the Supreme Court deadline, but it was found to be difficult because of the time demanded by the prospective buyers for going through various stages of such high value transactions to ensure optimal value realisation. The 30 advertised properties are located across India including Delhi, Pune, Indore, Lucknow, Coimbatore, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Guna, Kolkata, Haridwar, Aligarh, Bareilly, Dewas, Faridabad, Guwahati, Gwalior, Jhansi, Kanpur, Kurukshetra, Noida/Greater Noida, Patna and Porbandar.
Sahara lawyer Gautam Awasthy had earlier said the group has deposited around Rs 12,000 crore in last four years, which comes to an average of Rs 250 crore per month deposited to the Sebi-Sahara account. The interest component takes the deposited amount close to Rs 15,000 crore. This account was created for the money Sahara group was asked to deposit with the regulator for further refund to the bondholders from which the group had raised money, though the conglomerate claims to have already refunded more than 93 per cent money directly to the investors.
Last week, Sahara Chief Subrata Roy appeared before the Supreme Court which extended his parole till June 19 with a warning that failure to pay Rs 1,500 crore, as promised, may again land him in jail. A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra also asked Roy, “Do you intend to pay the money?” The Sahara Chief had replied, “I am trying my best”.