Embattled Sahara group on Wednesday spurned a $1.3 billion offer for its three prized overseas hotels, including Grosvenor House and Park Plaza, terming it as a "devious attempt" to lower the price even as the suitor maintained the proposal is "very compelling".
The offer was made by a consortium of family office investors, comprising Jesdev Saggar-led 3 Associates of the UK and others from the Middle East, for acquiring Sahara's majority stake in three marquee hotel properties -- the famed Grosvenor House in London, as well as the Park Plaza and Dream Downtown in New York.
Amid speculation that the fresh offer may trigger a bidding war as Sahara was already in talks with a few others including some Qatar-based investors for these hotels, the group was quick to spurn the proposal saying it was an attempt to ruin the market and disturb existing bidders at market value that was "much higher".
Saggar, Managing Director of 3 Associates which termed its offer as the "largest hotel bid in the UK history", said the consortium has made a "very compelling offer" and it was a long-term investment opportunity for them. In a strongly-worded reaction, a Sahara spokesperson however termed it "a malicious and non-serious act of some wrong people". "The said proposal is baseless. It is a devious attempt to benchmark the price much lower than the actual market value of the properties in order to ruin the market and disturb the sentiment of the actual bidders who are bidding at market value which is much higher," the spokesperson said.
Sahara group, whose chief Subrata Roy was in jail for over two years in connection with a long-running dispute with markets regulator Sebi and is now out on parole, has been trying hard to raise funds, including through refinancing of loans on its overseas hotels.
Responding to Sahara's rejection of the $1.3 billion offer, Saggar said: "We have followed the process and submitted in a compliant manner. If the bid is rejected then they should use the same process to communicate. "This is a long-term investment opportunity for us. We have submitted a very compelling offer. It is now up to the Supreme Court and the Roy family."
Seeking to raise funds, the beleaguered Saharas are already in talks with Qatar-based investors for a potential deal for the three hotels. Last year, the group was also in discussions with US-based Mirach Capital but the talks fell through amid a public spat between the two sides.
As per the website of 3 Associates, its founders and Multi Family office network have completed over 314 million pounds worth transactions since 2014, including hotels and commercial offices in the UK, the UAE and India.
It also claims to have "access to one of the largest pools of family office equity in the Middle East". Grosvenor House, a landmark on London's Park Lane and designed by acclaimed architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, was bought by Saharas in 2010. The two US hotels were purchased later.