New York/New Delhi: Embattled Sahara group has roped in real estate consultancy major JLL for finding a buyer for its iconic Plaza hotel in the US which can fetch a valuation of over $500 million, a media report said on Tuesday.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Sahara has hired JLL Hotels and Hospitality Group, a unit of real-estate firm JLL, to find a buyer for the Plaza hotel, once owned by Donald Trump much before he became the US President.
The group owns one more hotel, the Dream Downtown, in New York and earlier also there have been efforts for sale of these properties. There were no immediate comments from JLL, as also from Sahara group, which has been raising funds through various asset sales in India and abroad for depositing money in an investor refund account managed by regulator Sebi under orders from the Supreme Court.
The group, however, claims to have already refunded more than 95% of the total amount due to investors directly to them.
The WSJ report said Plaza can be one of the most expensive hotel sales on a per-room basis and may get a valuation of more than $500 million (over Rs3,200 crore) as per this popular industry metric.
It quoted a Sahara spokesperson as saying that a “sale is under process and it has not yet concluded."
Those interested in the property include a Qatari sovereign fund, a Chinese municipal investment fund and Pras Michel, the Grammy-winning co-founder of the hip-hop group Fugees, the report said.
The 110-year-old Plaza is situated off Central Park and its ownership has changed hands several times, where Sahara group had acquired about 75% with the remaining 25% being with Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal of Saudi Arabia.
Its past owner Trump had married his second wife Marla Maples at this hotel.
The hotel, which has 282 rooms in addition to several condos, restaurants and shops, have hosted the famous Plaza Accord to devalue the US dollar in 1985.
A process has been underway for quite some time for sale of some domestic and overseas assets of Sahara group, including of the Plaza hotel.
Earlier this month, a Supreme Court ordered auction process also began for Sahara group’s luxurious Aamby Valley resort town with the official liquidator inviting bids at a reserve price of Rs37,392 crore.
Sahara, which pegs the project’s market valuation at over Rs1 lakh crore, however said the liquidator has initiated only first two steps of the auction by issuing advertisement for interested bidders and verifying their KYC and the sale would be withdrawn if Rs1,500 crore is deposited before the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court.
The property, described by the liquidator as an “ultra- exclusive chartered city", includes timber chalets, modern villas, golf course, hospital, school and airport, among other amenities.
The auction process was initiated even as a Mauritius- based investor, Royale Partners Investment Fund, said it has offered to invest $1.67 billion (over Rs10,700 crore) in the Aamby Valley project.
The apex court had on 25 July asked the Sahara chief Subrata Roy to deposit Rs1,500 crore in the Sebi-Sahara account by 7 September and said that it might then deliberate upon his plea seeking 18 months more time for making complete repayment.