LONDON — Subrata Roy, head of India’s $11 billion Sahara group, was arrested on Friday after he surrendered to the police. The Indian Supreme Court had ordered the arrest on Wednesday over Sahara’s involvement in raising $3.8 billion via illegal bonds.
Sahara’s ailing media arm Sahara One Media and Entertainment asked 17 senior executives to resign. A similar number of employees are expected to be dismissed in March. Sahara operates three Hindi language channels – movie channel Filmy, general entertainment channel Sahara One, and Firangi which shows international programming dubbed into Hindi. The channels will eventually be run by Entertainment Hub, a television and film content producer owned by Trilogic Digital Media, as per a January deal.
Sahara One used to broadcast free to air in the U.K, but ceased in August 2013 due to a lack of viewership.
Roy’s arrest and the staff layoffs are the latest setbacks to an already beleaguered group. In October 2013, the Indian cricket board terminated Pune Warriors India, Sahara’s franchise in cricket’s lucrative Indian Premiere League, after a disagreement over the annual franchise fee. The Sahara group was also long time sponsor of India’s national cricket team, but lost the rights to Star India group in December 2013.
Sahara also owns the Awadhe Warriors team in the Indian Badminton League and Formula One team Force India. The group also owns newspapers and magazines in Urdu, Hindi and English.
Sahara Movie Studios has been active in the Bollywood space, co-producing hits like “Sarkar”, “Wanted” and “Page 3”. Its latest co-production “Gulaab Gang,” starring Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla is due a March 7 release.
In 2010, Sahara was in negotiations to acquire MGM, but a deal did not go through.