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NEW DELHI, Sept 5 India's Sahara conglomerate
would rather mortgage its trophy overseas hotel properties than
sell them to raise the $1.7 billion in bail money for its jailed
chairman, a senior company executive told Reuters.
Sahara Chairman Subrata Roy has been trying to find a buyer
for the three hotels, which include New York's Plaza hotel and
London's Grosvenor House, for the past month, using a makeshift
office in his New Delhi jail to negotiate a deal.
On Friday, Roy sought permission from the Supreme Court to
keep the office beyond a deadline that expires on Tuesday, his
lawyers said, as talks with potential buyers continue. The court
is expected to rule on the request early next week.
The executive said Sahara had received offers from several
buyers, including sovereign wealth funds, but had yet to take a
decision. He declined to name any of potential buyers.
"Right now we are focusing more on raising funds through
taking a loan on these properties," said the executive, who
declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the
"The sale is the last priority. In case we would have to
sell, we will sell over a period of time, but right now our
focus is to raise money by mortgaging these assets rather than
sell them," he added.
A spokesman for Sahara was not immediately available for a
Roy has been held in a New Delhi jail, pending bail, for six
months after he did not appear at a contempt hearing related to
Sahara's failure to repay billions of dollars raised in outlawed
Last month, the court allowed Roy to get the office, which
has facilities such as computers and assistants.
Sahara has not officially named any potential suitor for the
hotels. Last month, a spokesman for the Sultan of Brunei
dismissed a report by the Wall Street Journal online that an
investment firm affiliated with him had made a $2 billion bid
for the properties.
Roy, a flamboyant 66-year-old who has long been an enigmatic
figure in Indian business circles, calls himself "managing
worker and chairman" of Sahara and chief guardian of the
"world's biggest family", overseeing businesses with almost a
million staff and agents.
($1 = 60.4300 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty, Tony Munroe and Devidutta
Tripathy; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Miral Fahmy)