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Force India co-owners seek to sell stake in team | Reuters

NEW DELHI Force India co-owners Sahara are seeking to sell their stake in the Formula One team as part of efforts to raise cash and free jailed founder Subrata Roy.

Roy was arrested in March 2014 after the embattled conglomerate failed to comply with a Supreme Court order to refund money they had raised from millions of small investors through the sale of bonds later ruled to be illegal.

The group has been trying to raise funds since Roy's arrest to comply with the order to return 360 billion rupees ($5.3 billion).

The British-based Formula One team, co-owned with liquor baron Vijay Mallya, is among the prized assets of the company that is a household name in India as the former main sponsor of the national cricket team.

Other assets include New York's Plaza Hotel, the Grosvenor House in London and Sahara Star hotel in Mumbai.

Gautam Awasthi, a lawyer for Sahara, said in a statement on Tuesday the group had been able to "formalise deals" with regard to three foreign properties which, when closed, would raise about 23 billion rupees ($338.39 million).

Awasthi said Sahara had sought permission from the Supreme Court to sell other assets, including the Sahara Star hotel and the Force India stake, which would raise a combined 30 billion rupees.

Mercedes-powered Force India finished last season in fifth place, out of 10 teams, in the Formula One championship.

They have suffered cash-flow problems, however, and last October requested a $10 million advance on their 2016 championship money to help pay suppliers through the European winter after running into problems a year ago.

Force India's drivers are Mexican Sergio Perez and Germany's Le Mans winner Nico Hulkenberg.

Mallya, one of India's most-prominent businessmen, has his own troubles in India and is being pursued by banks for loan repayments linked to his grounded Kingfisher Airlines.

Kingfisher has not flown for more than two years and owes more than $1 billion to a consortium of banks, mostly state-owned.

The tycoon talked last November of a possible tie-up with loss-making sportscar maker Aston Martin, with the team name changing.

The team's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer last month poured cold water on the chances of that happening, however.

(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date: Feb 02, 2016 23:43 PM

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