Only 2 bidders interested in Sahara's Aamby Valley: report

Only two potential bidders are believed to have shown initial interest for the embattled Sahara Group's Aamby Valley luxury resort town, according to a PTI report.

The township near Pune in Maharashtra has been put up for auction as ordered by the Supreme Court at a reserve price of Rs 37,392 crore.

While there is no official word as yet on the identity of the potential bidders as the exercise is being carried out under confidentialy with observers appointed by the apex court, officials privy to the information told the news agency just two parties have turned up and have submitted their 'know your customer' (KYC) details as required for the initial steps of the auction process.

The sources refused to be identified and also declined to disclose the names of the potential bidders as the process has just got under way and involves strict confidentiality, but said the two parties are representatives of two separate consortium of investors and corporates.

The Bombay High Court put up Aamby Valley for a public auction in August to recover the dues the Subrata Roy-promoted group owes to various lenders. The official liquidator has set a reserve price of Rs 37,392 crore for the property. (See: Aamby Valley goes under hammer at Rs37,392 cr reserve price).

Several real estate consultants also argued that it would be almost impossible for any single real estate player in India to buy such a huge property, a hill resort town where a number of high-profile celebrities are said to have invested, as the sector is going through a severe cash crunch and it is difficult for them to even arrange loans from banks, says the PTI report.

The only possible buyers could be from China or Japan, quipped one top consultant, but added that there are indeed a couple of cash-rich industrialists in India who can afford such a price tag but have been so far not involved in the real estate as a business.

The property, described by the liquidator as an "ultra- exclusive chartered city", includes timber chalets, modern villas, a golf course, a hospital, a school and an airport, among other amenities.

The auction process has been initiated even as a Mauritius-based investor Royale Partners Investment Fund has signed a pact with Sahara offering to invest $1.67 billion (over Rs10,700 crore) in the Aamby Valley project.

Sahara, which pegs the project's market value at over Rs1 lakh crore, had earlier said the liquidator has initiated only the first two steps of the auction by issuing advertisement for interested bidders and verifying their KYC, and the sale would be withdrawn if the beleaguered Sahara Group manages to deposit Rs1,500 crore before the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court.

Sahara has been engaged in a long-running battle with capital market regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India over funds gathered from small investors on allegedly unreal promises.

The Supreme Court on 11 September refused to stay the auction (Sahara runs out of wriggle room as SC firm on Aamby Valley auction).

The Supreme Court directed the official liquidator to go ahead with the scheduled auction, rejecting Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy's plea for more time to deposit the requisite funds.

The directions came after Roy said he had deposited Rs 533.20 crore in the Sebi-Sahara account and wanted to pay the remaining Rs 966.80 crore through cheques dated 11 November.

The court had on July 25 asked the embattled Sahara chief to deposit Rs1,500 crore in the Sebi-Sahara account by 7 September and said it may only then deliberate upon his plea seeking 18 months more for making the full repayment of the outstanding amount to be refunded to the investors.