Poonawalla ups offer for Sahara's Grosvenor House but rules out price war

Pune-based billionaire father-son duo of Cyrus and Adar Poonawalla, an investor group linked to the Qatari royal family and the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei are locked in the race to buy one of the prized overseas assets of the Sahara group - the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, the Economic Times had reported last week.

Today CNBC-TV18 said that the Poonawalla Group is considering upping their bid for the London hotel from 475 million ( $937 million) to 550 million.Poonawalla had first made an offer for the 494-luxury room hotel on 19 April.

Last month, a judgment from the Supreme Court cited a report valuing the Grosvenor House Hotel at 519 million. ($850m). Sahara's Subrata Roy, who is looking to sell his trophy assets abroad in order to stump up Rs 10,000 crore to secure his release from prison, had bought the Grosvenor for 470 million pounds in 2008.

Poonawalla told CNBC-TV18, "We are looking at all-cash deal for Grosvenor House," adding that he was not willing to get into a price war for the property or go down the auction route.

He said," Financially, we don't need a partner for the Grosvenor bid."

Last week, Adar Poonawalla, son of Cyrus Poonawala had told the Financial Times that his family aimed to purchase the Grosvenor House if Subrata Roy failed in a bid to sell all three of his properties - Grosvenor House in London,The Plaza and Dream Downtown hotels in New York-to a single buyer.

Poonawalla is looking to diversify into the brick and mortar business and added that real estate is a safe investment with good returns.

But this not Poonawalla's first foray into the hospitality business as the group already owns a 50 percent stake in an upcoming Ritz Carlton in Pune. That hotel is a project of property magnate Atul Chordia of Panchshil Realty, who features among India's wealthiest and was in the news recently for partnering with private equity firm Blackstone Group to acquire Express Towers, Mumbai's prime officer tower for a whopping $140 million.

The Poonawalla group , that is estimated to be worth over $1-billion, is in sectors ranging from horse breeding to a pharmaceutical company that supplies drugs to 137 countries. According to a Forbes estimate in March this year, Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of the Group, has a net worth of $5.2 Billion and is the 10th richest man in India.

Source: Firstpost