Sahara India Pariwar, the conglomerate run by Indian billionaire Subrata Roy, is the latest Indian company to buy a landmark business in Britain by acquiring the historic Grosvenor House Hotel that was once home to the Duke of Westminster and frequented by royalty, celebrities and business leaders since its re-opening in 1929.
After having failed to buy debt-ridden Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc (MGM) in September 2010, Sahara has acquired the iconic London hotel from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBC) for, what some say, a throwaway price of £470 million (Rs3,275 crore).
"The valuation of the hotel, three years back was more than £1 billion. The valuation, even today is quite high but due to highly satisfactory due diligence by the RBS who owned the property and after long and strict negotiations, we have purchased it for £470 million," said Sahara Group chairman Roy.
However, the sale came after the Edinburgh-based bank failed to find a buyer willing to pay around £700 million in two previous auctions.
Multi-business Indian conglomerate Sahara, whose businesses range from airlines, luxury resorts to media finance, has been in exclusive talks with RBC since mid-October and had put down a deposit for Grosvenor House, being run by the JW Marriott chain of hotels. (See: Sahara to buy UK's Grosvenor House for Rs3,000 crore)
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.