Free Press Journal

SC gives Sahara ‘final’ chance to raise money 


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday gave Sahara a “final and last opportunity” to raise Rs.10,000 crore to make part payment to investors for the money raised in 2008-09, as a precursor to the release of Subrata Roy and two directors from custody.

The bench of Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice A.K. Sikri also permitted Sahara to sell some other properties within the country to raise the balance amount on account of gap between the funds it would be getting from Hong Kong-based Nouam Financial Consultants (rpt Nouam Financial Consultants) and the money it has to pay in pursuance to the court order.

Sahara has been allowed to sell its 10 properties located across the country to raise deficit of Rs.650 crore that it has to raise beyond what it would get from Nouam Financial Consultants.

The court also allowed Sahara to sell some part of its Aamby Valley property if it was not able to generate money from the sale of 10 properties.

Giving Sahara three months time to explore all the option to comply with the March 26, 2014 order of the apex court, the court said it would examine the option of appointing a receiver in case Sahara fails to mobilise the money to pay Rs.5,000 crore in cash and a bank guarantee of like amount to comply with its order.

“We make it clear. Should there be any difficulty in finalising the deal we shall be left with no option but to explore the option of appointing the receiver,” the court said in its order on Monday.

The court also permitted Mirach Capital to move an application offering an outright purchase of Sahara Group’s three offshore hotels located in London and two in New York. The court said it may consider Mirach’s proposal, if required, at a later stage.

At the outset of the hearing, counsel P. Chidambaram told the court that Mirach Capital is offering an outright purchase of Sahara’s three hotels – Grosvenor House Hotel in London and the New York Plaza and Dream New York hotels in New York.

However, it was opposed by counsel Kapil Sibal – appearing for Sahara – who said: “We have got a line of credit and money and after a while I can buy back (the three hotels). No question of any sale.”

Interestingly, Mirach had last week filed a $400 million defamation suit against Sahara after a $2.3 billion loan between Mirach Capital and Sahara Group to raise Rs.10,000 crore failed to fructify.

While Sahara accused Mirach Capital of “cheating” and “forgery”, Mirach in its defamation suit has contended that the failed deal to finance Sahara to comply with the court’s order has caused “irreparable harm” and “shaken investor confidence”.

After Monday’s order, Subrata Roy and Sahara Group’s two other directors – Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary – will be able to stay in the conference hall of the Tihar Jail court complex and use communication facilities including using laptops to communicate with prospective financers.

The court granted these facilities, which were first extended by its August 1, 2014, order, holding that the proposal Sahara has placed before it for raising the money to comply with its March 26, 2014 order, was “serious”.

Both amicus curiae Shekhar Naphade and senior counsel Arvind Dattar – appearing for market regulator SEBI – said they don’t want to go into the nitty-gritty of the proposal made by Sahara.

Telling the court that questions could be raised about the proposal being presented by Sahara to raise money, Dattar said: “Let them work out the deal. Give them the time. Let them work out the deal and raise the money.”

The apex court on August 30, 2012, had directed the Sahara group’s two companies SIRECL and SHICL to return investors Rs.17,400 crore collected by them through OFCDs in 2008-2009 along with 15 percent interest. The said amount, according to SEBI, has more than doubled.

The apex court by its March 26, 2014, order had asked Sahara to pay Rs.10,000 crore — Rs.5,000 crore would be deposited with the court in cash, and for the balance of Rs.5,000 crore Sahara will furnish a bank guarantee of a nationalised bank favouring the market regulator.

The amount of Rs.5,000 crore to be deposited with the court would be released to SEBI after Sahara complies with the conditions of interim bail.