Months after Brookfield, a Canadian asset managing company, offered to buy four of five luxury hotels and a large land parcel owned by the debt-ridden Leela Group of Hotels in India for about Rs 4,500 crore, another business tycoon has made a similar offer.  Emirati business tycoon Rashid Al-Habtoor has written to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley showing interest in acquiring the Leela Hotels with an equity infusion of about USD 600 million (about Rs 4,200 crore), according to an IANS report.

Al-Habtoor, the founder and CEO of Al-Habtoor Trading Enterprises, owns the Habtoor hotel chain. He is also a leading polo sports icon of the Gulf region.

Al-Habtoor wants to take the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) route to make the investment in Hotel Leelaventure Ltd, says the IANS report, adding he has offered to pay the entire debt of the lender institutions as well as Asset Reconstruction Company that might be approximately $600 million including the open offer to the public for acquisition of their shares as SEBI norms.

Al-Habtoor had visited India last week, and is understood to have made the offer then, as his letter to Jaitley dated 15 January contains a “revised offer”.

Leela Hotels, Emirati business tycoon, Rashid Al-Habtoor, Leela Group of Hotels, Arun Jaitley, Hotel Leelaventure Ltd
Rashid Al Habtoor. (Photo: www.habtoor.com)

“We understand that time is an essence and the entire transaction has to be completed by March 31. We are therefore conducting a macro due diligence of the company,” says the letter also addressed to Rajnish Kumar, Chairman of SBI, the lender to the hotel, Vivek Nair, Chairman and Managing Director of Leelaventure, and Anil Bhatia, Managing Director and CEO of JM Financial Asset Restructuring Company (JMARC).

“Simultaneously, our legal team will work on he binding documents required for the transaction which can be executed on completion of due diligence procedures,” the IANS report added quoting the letter.

The Leelaventure Board had in June last year approved an resolution to allow it to transfer a majority stake to JMARC.

Leelaventure had a debt of Rs 3,799 crore as of March 2018, according to media reports. The group has properties in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Gurugram, Goa, Kovalam, Udaipur and Bengaluru.

Al-Habtoor and his group hold $5 billion worth of assets globally.

According to the letter, the offer is valid for only seven days starting from 15 January, and could be extended on request. Al-Habtoor has said his representative team would like to visit India and meet Jaitley to take this forward.