It’s being called one of the biggest pan-India land sales in history. But just how big is it? The debt-ridden Sahara Group is selling 4,700 acres of its landholdings across 14 states in the country. The company hopes the sale will significantly help its efforts to furnish the Rs 10,000 crore required to get its chief, Subrata Roy, out of jail.
Roy has been in Tihar jail since March 4, 2014, on the orders of the Supreme Court in relation to a long running dispute with market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India. He has been on parole since May 6 and will have to return to prison if he does not furnish Rs 200 crore by July 11.
Even as this sale is expected to fetch Rs 6,500 crore according to the Times of India, the Sahara Group will still have more than 2,800 acres of land left to itself across the country. But in order to get Roy out of jail, the group needs to furnish a further Rs 5,000 crore as bank guarantee in addition to the bail amount of Rs 5,000 crore.
Following a Supreme Court directive, SEBI allowed the company to auction this land distributed over 60 properties. These properties are situated in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, among other states, but much of it is rural and agricultural land – and that could affect the price Sahara is finally able to fetch from the sales.
And in case it succeeds, it will amount to selling off an area 58 times the size of technology giant Infosys’ campus in Bengaluru’s Electronic City. The Infosys campus has a built-up space of more than 42 lakh sq-ft and houses more than 25,000 employees.
The total area of the land put on sale by the company is 85 times larger than the 55 acres occupied by the Taj Mahal in Agra. Similarly, it would be twice the size of Mahe in Puducherry, which is India’s smallest district by area.
However, it is not going to be easy for Sahara to sell this much land in one go. Reports point out that most of these properties are caught up in legal wrangles and buyers will have to think twice and then some more before sealing the deal.
“That’s why, despite the group’s desperate attempts to sell various properties, it has been only able to sell about 550 acres and raise about Rs 2,733 crore (Mint report) over the last two years,” said a report in Firstpost.
This development also comes on the heels of lenders being unable to find any buyers for the 17,000 sq-ft headquarters of Kingfisher Airlines in Mumbai. The reserve price was Rs 367 crore. The company has to pay dues of more than Rs 9,000 crore, but banks have been unable to sell off either the company headquarters or the trademarks which were valued at Rs 4,000 crore.