Essel Group in talks to sell solar assets, YO1 wellness centre in US
Indebted group is looking to sell operational solar portfolio to Adani for Rs 3,000 crore.
Essel Infraprojects, people in the know said, is in an advanced stage of talks with the Adani Group’s renewable energy company, Adani Green Energy, to sell part of its 300 megawatt of operational solar energy portfolio for around Rs 3,000 crore.
This is not the first time the group is trying to sell the solar assets. The Essel Group, which had put its infrastructure business on the block early last year, had entered into an agreement with private equity investor Actis to sell the entire solar energy portfolio of 685 MW of installed and under-construction projects for around Rs 4,700 crore. The deal, however, got scrapped earlier this year.
“After the deal with Actis fell through, the company decided to offer the solar portfolio in piecemeal. Talks with the Adani Group is for part of the operational portfolio of over 300 MW,” one of the people said “(The) Essel Group does not comment on any speculations,” a spokesperson said. “The stake sale process of the group’s infra assets is in (an) advanced stage. Any additional details cannot be shared due to confidentiality agreements,” the sokesperson added.
The Adani Group did not respond to an email seeking comment till press time Monday. Adani Green Energy is one of the largest renewable energy players in India with a capacity of 2.9 gigawatt of Solar and 1.7 GW of wind energy portfolio.
YOGA Centre: Chandra's pet project
The Essel Group has also initiated the process to sell YO1 Centre, its US-based luxury wellness destination and among the pet projects of chairman Chandra, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter. The 1,310-acre property, located in the Catskill Mountains of Monticello, New York, was inaugurated last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi through videoconference on World Yoga Day.
“The Essel Group is ready to sell YO1Centre and we are expecting it to generate around $250-300 million,” said one of the people. On this, the Essel Group spokesperson said, “The group is constantly exploring and evaluating strategic partnership opportunities to enhance the offerings of the wellness centre.”
Chandra had bought the erstwhile Kutsher’s Country Club, once an all-inclusive getaway for the Jewsish community, in 2014 for $8.18 million and had decided to convert it into a $250 million yoga centre for wealthy New Yorkers. While the initial plan was to open YO1in 2016, it took the group three years.
Finally, on June 21, 2018, the centre was inaugurated. Chandra had expected it to generate $100 million in annual revenue by third year of operation. The 131-room resort currently offers 50 therapy rooms for six customised ayurvedic ‘pathways to wellness’, starting $599 per night. The debt-laden Essel Group is planning to generate Rs 20,000 crore by selling its infrastructure business, including roads, power transmission and solar energy assets to trim its and promoters’ debt. Chandra is also in talks with potential buyers to sell up to 50% of promoters’ holding in Zee Entertainment Enterprises.
Lenders have given Chandra time till September 30 to repay debt. In an earlier interaction, Chandra had told ET that he was confident of meeting the September 30 deadline. “Our core objective is to come out clean from this by repaying everyone’s money and that too happily,” he had said.