SC gives three months time for Sahara for concluding deal

Expressing "prima facie satisfaction", the Supreme Court today granted three months time to Sahara Group for selling its offshore properties for raising Rs 10,000 crore to ensure the release of its Chief Subrato Roy, who has been in jail for a year for non-refund of over Rs 20,000 crore to depositors.

New Delhi: Expressing "prima facie satisfaction", the Supreme Court on Monday granted three months time to Sahara Group for selling its offshore properties for raising Rs 10,000 crore to ensure the release of its Chief Subrato Roy, who has been in jail for a year for non-refund of over Rs 20,000 crore to depositors.

A Bench headed by Justice T S Thakur gave the time to Sahara for completing the negotiations failing which its properties would be put to auction by appointing a 'court receiver' for alienating its assets.

The court also extended its August 1, 2014 order allowing Roy to use the conference room in Tihar jail complex to hold negotiations with potential buyers to sell his three luxury hotels--Dream Downtown and The Plaza in New York and Grosvenor House in London--to raise Rs 10,000 crore to get regular bail.

The apex court had asked 65-year-old Roy, who has been in Tijar Jail since March 4, 2014, to pay Rs 10,000 crore to get bail, out of which Rs 5,000 crore should be paid in cash and rest in bank guarantees.

The Bench, also comprising Justices A R Dave and A K Sikri, gave its consent to Sahara Group to go ahead with the negotiations after its senior advocate Kapil Sibal provided a brief outline of the fresh proposal under which Spanish Bank BBVA will provide cash assistance of 900 million euro to Hong Kong-based Nouam Ltd which will use the amount for paying and taking over the outstanding dues of the Bank of China.

Bank of China had lent money to Sahara in purchase of stakes in three overseas hotels.

Sibal said Nouam Ltd Managing Director Karan Judge will be the legal representative and the investment company will also generate additional 120 million US dollar (Rs 650 crore).

He said five-year old facilitator company Noam Ltd is in Joint Venture with Spanish company Yuma Finance AG and together they would be arranging money through BBVA.

Sibal said Noam Ltd has "real, clean and untainted" money and is also an unencumbered company.

On Monday, the country`s top court allowed Sahara to sell part of its Aamby Valley township outside Mumbai, which has luxury villas and a golf course, to raise funds.

Sibal said that the details of of the proposed deal have been handed over to SEBI and senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, who has been assisting the court as an amicus curiae and their queries have been responded.

He also submitted that about Rs 5000 crore which has to be deposited as bank guarantee would be generated from HSBC bank and would be furnished in the name of SEBI.

Giving further details, Sahara said there is a memorandum of understanding between Nouam Ltd and Aamby Valley (Mauritius) Ltd in connection with the proposed deal.

Taking on record the submission, the bench said "affability of fund with the Nouam Ltd and bank guarantee of Rs
5000 crore and execution of MoU between the Nouam and Aamby Valley (Mauritius) Ltd sufficiently shows seriousness of effort by Saharas".

"This court permits Saharas to take the proposal to next level," the bench said adding that "prima facie we are satisfied that the proposal appears to be a serious effort and we allow it to pursue further".

Sahara also informed the bench that it was in negotiations with some others and in case the proposal with Nouam Ltd did not fructify, it should allowed to have talks and deals with them.

The bench agreed with the plea with a condition that any negotiations will have to be completed within the specified time frame of three months.

During the hearing, the group took the names of countries like Spain, Hong Kong, Argentina and Panama in completing the fresh proposed deal.

The day's proceedings also witnessed senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for Mirach Capital with whom Saharas' second proposed deal had collapsed, submitting "I have instructions to say we have an offer to buy out all the three hotels."

However, Sibal said Sahara Group was not keen to enter into any deal with the Mirach Capital.

The bench gave liberty to Chidambaram to file an affidavit and the scheme of offer in a sealed envelope.

The bench observed that Sahara Group was making "herculean effort" to get the money.'

It said after Roy comes out he would also have to arrange additional Rs 30,000 crore.

"You are finding it tough to raise Rs 10,000 crore. We are wondering you have to pay Rs 30,000 crore. How will you do," the bench observed.

Sibal said "first I am seeking my release".

However, the bench said in the next hearing it will ask about the Rs 30,000 crore. "Why don't you give us plan for Rs 30, 000 crore also," it added.

Sibal said he will argue for Rs 30,000 crore after Roy comes our of jail. "First let me get out of this hurdle," he added.

"It is a do or die effort for me and we are making serious efforts and trying hard as my liberty is at stake," he said and requested that the group should be allowed to sell some domestic assets which was allowed.

The apex court on March 13 had noted that two earlier attempts to negotiate the deal in the past had to be aborted and the "third and final chance was being given to Saharas to generate the required money to discharge the order of this court".

The apex court was informed on February 11 about the failure of the proposed second deal in which Mirach Llc of the US was supposed to provide junior loan of USD 650 million and another USD 400 million in investment to the embattled group.

The court was also informed that RBI has initiated action by issuing show cause notice to Sahara in pursuant to its February 24 order for allegedly encashing securities, deposited with RBI and diverting them to pay depositors to the tune of Rs 484 crore without the court's nod.

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