State Bank of India, a major banker for debt-laden Suzlon, on Wednesday said the wind turbine maker’s move to approach corporate debt restructuring cell would give more time for lenders to sort out the issues.

Loss-making Suzlon Group last month said it has started discussions with lenders for restructuring debt, including a two-year moratorium on repayment of term loans.

“I think reference to the Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) cell gives the bankers more time to iron out these issues and Suzlon’s financials are a little more complex,” SBI Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on India summit here.

Suzlon has a debt burden of over Rs 13,000 crore including Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCBs) obligations. A few weeks back, bondholders had rejected its proposal seeking four-month extension to repay overseas debt worth about $221 million.

Noting that Suzlon case is much different from that of Kingfisher, Chaudhuri said the former “is a much different case, it is a running company and has operations globally”.

“Whatever little I understand is that they (Suzlon) took lot of short term debt...,” he added.

SBI is estimated to have an exposure of about Rs 3,500 crore to Suzlon.

Talking about Suzlon, he said that its business model is such that “when you build a wind energy farm, the payment would come after a long period of time of 15-20 years, which they financed out of 3-5 years, so its more a mismatch than I would say an insolvency issue”.

According to Chaudhuri, SBI is quite confident about Suzlon’s technological capabilities while recognising the challenging global environment.

“So, how the company manages the technological issues with the financing issues, that would need more in depth discussions,” he said.

Last month, SBI had suggested suggested merger of Suzlon’s German arm REpower with the group to improve profitability.

“They (Suzlon) have global subsidiaries (but) to what extent those global subsidiaries can be brought in together, to what extent you can use the surplus cash lying in one subsidiary to fund the another... so those are some of the issues,” he noted.

(This article was published on November 7, 2012)
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