Middle Eastern investors launch $1.3bn bid for London and New …

A consortium of Middle Eastern and UK family offices has launched a $1.3bn bid to buy hotels owned by jailed Indian businessman Subrata Roy, including the Grosvenor House Hotel on London s Park Lane.

The bid, which was submitted earlier today, throws into doubt a deal that was being lined up with the Qatar Investment Authority earlier this month and could spark a bidding war for the assets. Mr Roy s company Sahara bought the Grosvenor House Hotel in 2010 from the Royal Bank of Scotland for 470m. RBS took control of Grosvenor House in 2003 when Le Meridien, the previous hotel operator, fell into administration. Sahara also owns a stake in New York s Plaza Hotel and Dream Downtown Hotel, which would be included in a potential deal.

The new all-equity bid has been submitted by UK-based family office 3 Associates, with cash provided by a family office based in the United Arab Emirates, through agency Knight Frank. Reports that 3 Associates and its Middle Eastern backer were lining up a bid emerged last month, but the funds accelerated the process to take advantage of the weakened pound following the UK s vote to leave the European Union. Jesdev Saggar, managing director of 3 Associates, said: “Because of the currency fluctuation we felt this was the right time to move on these assets.

“With all the uncertainty in the commercial property market since the vote, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of opportunities in London with regards to where the dollar is. Evidently we have selfish reasons for owning these assets, but it’s important that the market understands that there is a tremendous amount of confidence in the London market.”

A sale of the hotels would provide a lifeline to Mr Roy, who was jailed in 2014 for refusing to attend court hearings in relation to India s market regulator over a savings scheme. Mr Roy has been out of prison on parole since May, but risks going back to jail next month unless he can pay a $1.5bn bail fee. He had previously been allowed to seek buyers for the hotels from prison during a six-hour window each day.

Mr Saggar said today’s bid would be discussed as part of Mr Roy’s ongoing court case.

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