Suitors line up for Sahara’s luxury asset Plaza Hotel, but is it looking to sell?

New York’s famed Plaza Hotel, which is currently majority owned by privately held Indian diversified business house Sahara Group, has attracted over two dozen suitors including real estate investors, financial firms, apart from New York developer and art collector Aby Rosen and Grammy-winning rap artist Pras Michel, among others, as per a news report by The Wall Street Journal.

“The Plaza is a major trophy asset, and we want to own it,” the paper quoted David Sugarman, a New York-based sports agent who is part of Pras Michel’s bid consortium, as saying.

However, the question puzzling bidders as also Indian authorities is whether Sahara is serious to sell it for that matter the other assets it needs to, to raise cash for seeking release of its chief Subrata Roy. Roy has been in Tihar Jail in Delhi since March this year.

The 65-year-old has been in jail over failure to repay depositors to his group's two privately held firms. The money was raised through public deposits by a real estate arm of the privately held group, which was later ruled illegal by securities market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

SEBI has filed a petition with the Supreme Court of India, after receiving complaints from prospective buyers, and asked the court to direct the group to disclose details of all its negotiations and offers for the Plaza, London’s Grosvenor House and the Dream Hotel in downtown Manhattan.

In the petition, the regulator has accused the group for “willfully and deliberately” refusing the offers for Plaza Hotel and two other hotels buyout.

Indian financial services-to-hospitality tycoon Subrata Roy of the Sahara Group had put several of his marquee hotel properties, including Plaza Hotel and London’s Grosvenor House on the block, following an order by the Supreme Court to repay it bond investors.

Sahara Group had acquired a majority stake holding in Plaza Hotel, which is located at the southeast corner of Central Park, in 2012 for $430 million. Saudi billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal owns a 25 per cent equity holding stake in the property.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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