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Subrata Roy Given 15 More Days To Sell Hotels

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Subrata Roy, the jailed chief of Sahara conglomerate, has won 15 days more from the Supreme Court to use his makeshift office in prison to negotiate the sale of his group's trophy overseas hotels and raise $1.7 billion in bail money.

Roy, 66, has been held in a New Delhi jail for more than six months after failing to appear at a contempt hearing over his group's failure to repay billions of dollars to investors who were sold outlawed bonds.

Roy has been personally negotiating the sale of the hotels, including Grosvenor House in London and the Plaza in New York since Aug 05, when he was allowed to use office facilities in the Tihar prison complex.

"No one can be more anxious than my client," S. Ganesh, a lawyer representing Sahara, told India's Supreme Court on Monday (08 September), a day before the end of the previous extension granted for Roy to use the office.

"There is more than one prospective buyer," Ganesh said.

Sahara has not officially named any of the potential suitors for the hotels. Last month a spokesman for the Sultan of Brunei dismissed reports that an investment firm affiliated with him had made a $2 billion bid for the three Sahara hotel properties.

This is the second extension given to Roy, who was initially allowed to use the office for 10 days, extended once by 15 days. The Supreme Court panel, however, said the latest extension would be the last and that they want results.

A Sahara executive who asked to remain anonymous told Reuters last week that the conglomerate would rather mortgage its overseas hotel properties than sell them.

Sahara is best known in India as the former main sponsor of the national cricket team.

Roy, an enigmatic figure in Indian business circles, calls himself the "managing worker and chairman" of Sahara and guardian of the "world's biggest family" with close to a million employees and agents.


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