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Supreme Court approves sale of Sahara’s Aamby Valley in parts

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With no takers coming forward to purchase the entire Aamby Valley, an integrated hill city township spread over 6700 acres near Lonavala in Pune district, the Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the liquidator and receiver to auction the saleable property of Aamby Valley until April 12 in parcels. The court was also informed that Mahindra and Piramal Groups have expressed interest in buying some parts.

The properties on auction included an integrated hill city township spread over 6,761.642 acres in the great Sahayadri mountain range, 1,409.865 acres of land surrounding Aamby Valley City Development and land measuring 321.656 acres within the Satara district. The reserve price of the property was Rs 37,392 crore.

Bombay HC's official liquidator on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that it was unable to sell the entire Aamby Valley property despite advertising for it following which the Apex court allowed the liquidator and the receiver to auction the saleable property in parts, sources said.

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The Supreme Court has given time until April 12 to complete the entire process, sources said.

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The liquidator also informed the court that two corporate houses – Mahindra and Piramal groups have expressed interest in purchasing some part of Aamby Valley property, sources said.

There was no response from the two companies at the time of publishing the story.

The auction process began on August 14 with the official liquidator inviting bids.

Multiple real estate consultants had told Moneycontrol last year that it would be almost impossible for any single real estate player in India to buy such a huge property, a hill resort town in Maharashtra 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.

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

Sahara, that had earlier pegged the project's market valuation at over Rs 1 lakh crore,  has been engaged in a long-running battle with the capital market regulator Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India).

The Supreme Court on September 11 last year had refused to stay Aamby Valley auction, even as the group had said that Royale Partners Investment Fund has agreed to provide a loan of USD 1.6 billion (over Rs 10,000 crore) against a security of 26 percent shares of its Aamby Valley project.

The directions came after Sahara Group Chief Subrata Roy's 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 November 11.

The court had on July 25 asked the embattled Sahara chief to deposit Rs 1,500 crore in the Sebi-Sahara account by September 7 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.

The auction was first scheduled for October and then for December but no bids were received.

Vandana.ramnani@nw18.com

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