The Supreme Court today permitted the Subrata Roy’s Sahara Group to proceed with the sale of four domestic properties, which is likely to fetch Rs 2,710 crore, in its bid to raise Rs 10,000 crore to secure his release from jail.
The court allowed the group to sell properties in Jodhpur, Pune, Chauma in Gurgaon and Vasai in Mumbai after it was satisfied that the transactions were in accordance with its June 4 order.
This order had stated that “such sales are not for a price lower than the estimated value indicated in the statement filed before this Court or the circle rates fixed for the area in which such properties are situated”.
A bench headed by Justice T S Thakur was told that the transactions for these properties would be completed by May 2015 and in the meantime, the purchasers would deposit post-dated cheques in the name of SEBI-Sahara refund account with undertakings that those would be honoured on due dates.
The bench, also comprising justices A R Dave and A K Sikri, was informed that the group has already generated Rs 184.5 crore as part payment for its assets in Jodhpur, Chauma and Vasai and following which it was allowed to hand over three demand drafts and one cheque to SEBI’s counsel.
Regarding the sale of Pune property which would fetch Rs 550 crore, Sahara group through senior advocates Rajiv Dhawan and S Ganesh said that the agreement was not signed due to unavoidable circumstances and in the near future, the deal will be through and it is expected to get Rs 50 crore as initial part payment.
Accepting the proposal, the bench permitted it to go ahead with the proposed deal and deposit Rs 50 crore with SEBI-Sahara refund account.
Out of the list of nine domestic properties, Sahara has already sold its Ahmedabad property and has raised Rs 411.82 crores which has gone into the account of SEBI.
However, Sahara Group would have to wait for getting clearance for raising ‘junior loan’ of USD 650 million (approx. Rs 3,600 crore) as a part of the scheme to overcome the liability with Bank of China which had lent money to it in purchasing stakes in three overseas hotels, Dream Downtown and The Plaza in New York and Grosvenor House in London.
SEBI’s counsel Arvind Dattar and senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, submitted that certain terms of transactions were not clear like the issue of escrow agent and the liability which is likely to rise for the Sahara.
The bench asked the Sahara Group to provide all information sought by the amicus and the market regulator within a week and posted the matter for further hearing on December 17.
At the outset, Dhawan said substantial amout has been paid by Sahara Group to SEBI and Rs 1882 crore remains and it be allowed to give cheques for remaining dues.
“We would not like to accept post-date cheques at this stage,” the bench said.
The group also sought court’s specific direction with regard to its bid to sell the Pune property and said that some sort of confusion has been created due to some media reports.
“You have already been permitted,” the court said.
During the hearing, the court expressed dissatisfaction over the progress in the sale of properties and suggested that it can also assist in their disposal by taking help of an assets management company.
Earlier, Sahara Group had approached the court with a fresh proposal for securing release of Subrato Roy.
Roy, who was sent to jail on March 4 this year for non- refund of over Rs 20,000 crore with interest to depositors, was asked by the court to pay Rs 10,000 crore to get bail, out of which Rs 5,000 crore should be paid in cash and rest of the amount in bank guarantee.
Sahara, which earlier had raised Rs 3,117 crore and deposited with SEBI, has told the court that out of nine domestic assets it has now sold an Ahmedabad property and raised Rs 411.82 crores which has also gone into account of the market regulator.
Earlier, SEBI had moved the court seeking its direction to Sahara group to give a time schedule for payment of Rs 47,000 crore to it.
In the application, SEBI had submitted that the group be directed to furnish all details before the court regarding offers it received for its three luxury hotels, which was to be put on sale to raise money to be deposited with it.
The apex court had earlier allowed Roy, 65, to use the conference room in Tihar jail complex to hold negotiations with potential buyers for selling the hotels in New York and London.
Court lets India’s Sahara sell $424 mln of local properties
(Reuters) India’s Sahara conglomerate on Tuesday won the Supreme Court’s approval to sell four of its domestic properties, which it said would raise 26.22 billion rupees ($424 million), crucial to secure the bail of its jailed chief.
Sahara Chairman Subrata Roy has been held in a New Delhi jail for almost nine months in a long-running dispute with the country’s capital markets regulator over the refund of billions of dollars the group raised in outlawed bonds.
The Supreme Court has asked Sahara to deposit 100 billion rupees initially to release Roy on bail. Sahara has said it would mortgage or sell its overseas hotels, including the Plaza in New York and Grosvenor House in London, to raise funds.
Last week, Sahara sought the court’s approval to take over a Bank of China loan on the overseas hotels and also raise $650 million more in loans through a refinancing to pay off the bail money.
The court has sought more information from the capital markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, and Sahara on the refinancing of the overseas properties and will hear the case next on Dec. 17.
($1 = 61.8800 Indian rupees)