<
>

No buyer for Sahara's Force India stake 'at the moment'

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

The Sahara Group has not yet found a buyer for its 42.5 percent stake in the Force India Formula One team, which it is trying to sell in order to raise funds to release founder Subrata Roy from jail.

The Sahara boss was jailed after the conglomerate sold $5.3 billion of bonds that were later deemed illegal by India's Supreme Court. Sahara sought permission to sell its stake in the F1 team last month as part of a package to raise the $780 million needed to free Roy from jail.

In 2011 Sahara paid $100 million for its stake in the team, but it is doubtful it would see a full return on its investment if it finds a buyer. A Sahara spokesman told the Reuters news agency on Thursday that there were "no talks with anybody at the moment" about selling the stake in Force India.

The Reuters report suggests Sahara might struggle to find a buyer for its minority shareholding in the team and that it would be easier to sell Force India as a whole. But even if the other shareholders were willing to sell, the situation is complicated by team boss Vijay Mallya's 42.5 percent share, which forms part of a security package being held as collateral by drinks company Diageo to underpin a $135 million loan owed by Watson Limited, a company affiliated to Mallya.

Diageo was linked to a takeover of Force India involving Aston Martin branding over the winter, but the deal did not come to fruition ahead of the new season. The team itself is due to launch its new car on Monday after a creditable fifth-place finish in the constructors' championship last year.