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Sultan of Brunei denies report of bid for Sahara's New York, London hotels

A report had said the Sultan made a bid for the Indian conglomerate's Plaza Hotel and Dream Hotel in New York, and London's Grosvenor House hotel. Sahara Group is negotiating the sale to raise $1.6 billion for chairman Subrata Roy's bail.

Karen Rebelo   Bangalore     Last Updated: August 19, 2014  | 10:19 IST
Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy has been negotiating a sale of the hotels from a makeshift office in Tihar Jail
Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy has been negotiating a sale of the hotels from a makeshift office in Tihar Jail (Photo: Associated Press)

A spokesman for the Sultan of Brunei has dismissed a report that he had made a bid for New York's Plaza Hotel, Dream Hotel and London's Grosvenor House hotel, currently owned by the Sahara Group.

The Wall Street Journal's website edition reported on Saturday that an investment firm affiliated with Brunei had offered to pay $2 billion for the three hotels.

"Neither His Majesty, the Brunei Investment Agency, nor the government of Brunei are involved in any way in the purchase of the Grosvenor House in London or the Plaza and Dream Downtown hotels in New York," a spokesman at Bell Pottinger, acting on behalf of the Sultan of Brunei, wrote in an email.

The Journal story made headlines in India, where Sahara is best known as the long-time former main sponsor of India's national cricket team.

Its chairman, Subrata Roy, has been negotiating a sale of the hotels from a makeshift office in Tihar Jail in New Delhi. He wants to raise $1.6 billion for bail.

Roy has been held for more than five months after failing to appear at a contempt hearing in a long-running dispute with regulators over his group's failure to repay billions of dollars to investors who were sold outlawed bonds.

Sahara bought the Plaza Hotel for about $570 million in 2012. Two years earlier, it paid 470 million pounds ($786.5 million) for the 494-room Grosvenor House overlooking Hyde Park near Buckingham Palace.

The group is also looking to sell the Dream Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

Brunei has been criticised by civil rights and gay rights advocacy groups in the United States for becoming the first East Asian country to adopt sharia criminal law, which punishes sodomy and adultery with death by stoning.

The City of Beverly Hills voted in May to pressure the sultan's luxury hotel operator, the Dorchester Collection, to divest the Beverly Hills hotel.

(Reuters)

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