Faced with stern action from the capital markets regulator, the Sahara group has once again published an advertisement aimed at clearing the air surrounding its operations.
But the explanations are anything but clear and serve only to create more confusion among investors and general public.
Expressing its disappointment over getting convicted for the first time in 34 years, it also alleged that news about the alleged mortgage of the underlying assets of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation as “completely wrong, misconceived and baseless”. Some newspapers had said that the real estate assets frozen by Sebi may be mortgaged to lenders.
The advertisement claims the group has a very small outstanding liability to be repaid to investors in its optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCDs).
It puts the total OFCD collection of the two companies, on which Sebi has finally taken action now, at Rs 25,781 crore. Of this, Rs 22,117 crore has been repaid, it claimed, which leaves an outstanding liability of Rs 3,663.93 crore.
Of this “more than 50 percent” has been repaid to “its distant rural area investors”, which means it now has to repay only a measly sum.
“Interest @ 15% on the above amount is Rs 1,370.53 crore,” says the ad, but fails to specify which the “above mentioned amount” is.
Interestingly, since it claims it has already paid Rs 5,120 crore to Sebi as part of the Supreme Court’s order to repay its investors, Sahara is actually eligible for a refund from the regulator. In other words, it has deposited with Sebi more than it should have.
According to the ad, the two companies in question invested the funds raised in real estate and shares of real estate companies.
Since it has the highest priority for its “esteemed investors’ interest”, the companies have been “taking back/realising” this money “with profits” in order to clear the liabilities, the group claims.
According to the ad, the Sahara group has taken a very small Rs 650 crore loan from banks and all its assets and shareholdings are free from any “mortgage or encumbrances”.
And, of course, the company is making efforts to come clean. It plans to submit the two companies’ provisional balance-sheets as of 31 December to Sebi within a week’s time.