Sultan of Brunei not bidding for Sahara's hotels: report

The Sultan of Brunei has denied making bids for Sahara's three luxury hotels - New York's Plaza Hotel and Dream Hotel and London's Grosvenor House hotel - reports citing a spokesperson of the ruler said.

The Wall Street Journal online had reported on Saturday, citing people familiar with the situation, that an investment firm affiliated with Brunei had offered to pay over $2 billion for the three hotels owned by India's Sahara conglomerate (See: Sultan of Brunei bids for Sahara's New York and London hotels: report).

"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," Reuters quoted a spokesman at Bell Pottinger.

The WSJ report suggested that the Sultan of Brunei could be paying the Sahara group around $2.2 billion to buy all the three properties.

Reports had earlier suggested that real estate giant Madison Capital and the India's Punnawallah family might also be interested in Sahara's New York and London properties, respectively.

The Sahara group has to raise Rs10,000 crore ($1.6 billion) on an immediate basis to secure bail for group chief Subrata Roy, who has been in jail ever since he failed to appear at a contempt hearing in a long-running dispute with market regulators over his group's failure to repay thousands of crores to investors who were sold illegal bonds.

Roy has to return over Rs24,000 crore in principal alone to people from whom he had raised money, the instrument of which was later found to be illegal.

The total money to be returned with added interest comes to around Rs40,000 crore.