Sahara India's subsidiary Aamby Valley buys London's Grosvenor House Hotel from Royal Bank of Scotland

Sahara India's subsidiary Aamby Valley announced it had bought London's Grosvenor House Hotel from the Royal Bank of Scotland for 470 million pounds, approx Rs.3,300 Crore. The acquisition is expected to enable Sahara group establish its foothold in the international luxury hotel market. It plans to add restaurants, including Indian restaurant Namak, a business centre, a night club and other facilities to the property.

Grosvenor House, located on London's prestigious Park Lane in Mayfair, is an iconic landmark with 420 rooms, 74 suites and 27 meeting rooms covering over 4,000 sq m and is currently managed by Marriott International. Sahara and Marriott will jointly run the 80-year-old five-star hotel that overlooks London's Hyde Park.

The Grosvenor House Hotel also houses Europe's largest banquet space - The Great Room - which has been the venue of several prominent awards evenings, charity balls and is often seen on British television. It is one of the largest ballrooms in Europe, with a maximum capacity of 2,000.

Sahara, at present, operates the Sahara Star hotel in Mumbai, which it acquired in 2006 and which currently has 210 guest rooms and 13 suites and owns the luxurious 10,600 acres Aamby Valley Township. Grosvenor House was once home to the Duke of Westminster. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) bought the property in 2001 for 1.2 billion pounds for 12 Le Meridien hotels as part of a sale-and-leaseback deal.

RBS, which received bailout funds from the British government when the global financial crisis happened in Europe, is trying to sell the hotel for past three years in order to raise funds maintain its balance sheet. The bank had been looking for a buyer for Grosvenor House for the last three years. At that time, the hotel was valued for more than 1 billion pound. However, unfavorable economic conditions hit valuations hard.

RBS had originally hoped to get as much as 700 million pounds from the sale, but lowered its target later due to a lukewarm response. Even till now, the valuation is still high but due to a highly satisfactory due diligence by RBS and after long and strict negotiations, Sahara purchased it for 470 million pound.

Sahara Group has businesses in hospitality, real estate financial services, mutual funds, life insurance, media, film production, sports, information technology, healthcare, commodity sales and services and consumer products.  Other five-star hotels in the UK owned by Indian are the Radisson Mayfair owned by Jasminder Singh and the Washington Mayfair, by NRI businessman Joginder Sanghar.

31 Dec 2010.