Aamby Valley auction starts with ₹37000-cr reserve price

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The development comes just after three days of the Supreme Court declining to stay the auction of Sahara's properties despite the group claiming to have sold its two NY hotels and that it would generate $1.67 billion against 26% equity in its Aamby Valley property near Pune to pay its dues to the capital market regulator SEBI. Notices in prominent media the public auction of "sale/lease" on an "as-is-where-is-whatever-there is' of the Aamby Valley City has been issued". In a bid to recover the pending dues to various lenders, the official liquidator has set a reserve price of Rs 37,392 crore for the property.

He said that it was a global auction and interested parties from across the world would participate and Rs 4.4 crore had already been spent in initiating the process.

The Sahara Group has been embroiled in a lengthy court battle with the market regulator over a case involving a Rs 24,000-crore refund to investors. The Aamby Valley is spread over more than 10,000 acres and includes luxury resort accommodation and an 18-hole golf course.

The auction notice puts a spanner in Sahara owner Subrata Roy's plea to postpone the auction till September when he said he would be able to arrange for the Rs 1,500 crore that was to be deposited in the Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) Sahara refund account.

Sahara had told the Supreme Court of India that a Mauritius-based investor, Royale Partners Investment Fund, last week had offered to invest $1.67 billion (about Rs10,900 crore) in Sahara group's Aamby Valley project. The bench told the company that it would pass an "appropriate order" if Rs 1,500 crore was paid by September 7.

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The successful bidders will come in possession of all subsisting licences, consents, permissions, registrations, approvals, grants and pending applications (as applicable) as per the Supreme Court order of July 25, 2017. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Sahara Group, had urged the Supreme Court to postpone the publication of auction notice from August 14 to September 16.

He said that hotels in NY have been sold and soon money would be coming into the Sahara account after which Rs 1,500 crore would be deposited into the SEBI-SAHARA refund account by September 7, as had been directed by the court.

"It will not be appropriate if the auction process is stalled", he said and added that according to SEBI's research, the said Mauritius-based company, named by Sahara, did not exist. Sahara lawyer told the court that hotels in NY have been sold and soon money would be coming into the Sahara account after which Rs1,500 crore would be deposited into the Sebi-Sahara refund account by 7 September, as had been directed by the court.

In 2011, Sebi alleged that the Sahara Group has raised over Rs 20,000 crore from 30 million investors illegally.

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