Sahara Group Boss Subrata Roy Moved Back to Jail Cell As Deadline to Sell Hotels Ends
A file photograph of Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy.Reuters

Jailed Indian businessman Subrata Roy is back in a cell after living in a makeshift prison office for two months, from where he tried to sell his trophy assets, including hotels in London and New York.

Roy was moved back to a cell in Delhi's Tihar Jail after a Supreme Court-imposed deadline for the use of the office ended, Reuters quoted the jail's spokesman Mukesh Prasad as saying.

Roy, who heads troubled financial services group Sahara India Pariwar, had until 30 September to sell the Grosvenor House hotel and two hotels in New York.

A deal will help Roy raise funds to post a $1.6bn (£988m, €1.3bn) bail in Delhi. Roy has to pay India's market regulator Sebi to get out of Tihar jail.

The Sahara group could mortgage its trophy hotel properties rather than sell them, to raise bail money, The Economic Times reported earlier.

Suitors

Sahara has not officially named any of the potential buyers for the hotels.

In August, a spokesman for the Sultan of Brunei dismissed reports that an investment firm affiliated to him had tabled a $2bn bid for the three Sahara hotels.

American real estate investor Madison Capital has tabled an $800m bid for Roy's US hotels – the Plaza Hotel and Dreams Downtown Hotel.

An investment arm of the Qatari royal family and an Indian pharma billionaire, Cyrus Poonawalla, have offered to buy the British property, which is located in the Mayfair area and managed by J W Marriott.

Roy has been in jail since 4 March after two group companies - Sahara Housing and Sahara Real Estate - failed to comply with the apex court's order to refund $3.9bn to 30 million investors.

Roy acquired the New York hotels for close to $800m in 2012 and had purchased the Grosvenor for $725m in 2010. The acquisitions were financed through borrowings from the Bank of China.