Sahara asset attracts Rs 150 crore bids; SC turns into auction room

MUMBAI: Sahara Group’s press and television business have taken a hit. Not just this, the group’s 45 acre property in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, has been entangled in a courtroom bidding war, with the Supreme Court turning into an auction room.

Samriddhi Developers and Gorakhpur Real Estate Developers are the two companies that are vying for the property.

While Samriddhi Developers had initially put an offer of Rs 64 crore, the amount rose to Rs 150 crore by the end of the bidding.

According to an Economic Times report, the group needs to raise Rs 1,800 crore by way of cash as part of a Rs 5,000-crore payment it needs to make to free chairman Subrata Roy on bail. Aside from this, the Supreme Court has also asked for a Rs 5,000-crore bank guarantee in a case involving refunds to investors. 

What is notable is that while Samriddhi and Sahara had signed an initial memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the sale of the plot at Rs 64 crore, the scenario changed after Gorakhpur Real Estate Developers made an offer of Rs 110 crore for the plot.

Samriddhi Developers, senior advocate Paras Kuhad took instructions from one of the partners present in the court, and jacked the bid to Rs 125 crore. Later, the rival took it up to Rs 140 crore, adding another Rs 5 crore, before finally settling at Rs 150 crore.

The bench has now asked both parties to show their bonafides by depositing 25 per cent of the amount by 31 July in the Sebi-Sahara account. The rest needs to be arranged in three equal installments by 31 October. If either of them fail to meet the deadline, the amount deposited will be forfeited.  

The money generated from the sale of the Gorakhpur property will be added to the amount already deposited by the Sahara Group in the Sebi-Sahara account and go towards securing Roy's release. 

Complying with the July order, Gorakhpur Real Estate Developers has already deposited Rs 11 crore with the Supreme Court Registry to establish its bonafides. Samriddhi too has placed a letter and a cheque from its bankers to show its bonafides.

The bench has now posted the matter for hearing on 3 August. 

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