Essar may take Russian help again, now for its power business

ksenia kondratieva Mumbai | Updated on September 26, 2018

A file photo of Essar Power’s coal-fired power plant in Salaya village, Gujarat. Its Mahan plant is among more than 30 stressed power assets that have been earlier identified by the government.   -  REUTERS

After selling its oil business to a consortium led by Russian giant Rosneft for $12.9 billion and securing support from another Russian major VTB Group for debt-laden Essar Steel, promoters of Essar Group may now be looking for another investor from Russia — this time, for its stressed power business.

Essar promoters may ask Russian state-controlled Inter RAO, a diversified energy major with operations in generation, transmission and power trade, to become an investor in its 2x600 MW Mahan thermal power project in Madhya Pradesh; the project was recently dragged to the NCLT by the lead lender ICICI Bank.

“The promoters may invite a Russian investor for the Mahan project to settle with lenders outside of the NCLT,” an industry source, who did not wish to be quoted, told BusinessLine.

In May, Essar Power and Inter RAO-Export, an export arm of Inter RAO, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for strategic cooperation. Inter RAO, headed by Boris Kovalchuk, son of Vladimir Putin’s close associate Yury Kovalchuk, has several power assets outside Russia with a capacity of over 4,200 MW.

A spokesperson for the Russian company said, “Inter RAO-Export, as a subsidiary of Inter RAO, is not planning to realise any investment projects in India... our cooperation with Essar Power is at its initial stage.”

According to the MoU between the companies, the Russian side is “expecting to get detailed information on India’s power market” to study the potential and “think about taking further steps within our joint cooperation,” he added.

Essar Power’s Mahan plant is one of company’s thermal projects that is currently under stress due to lack of fuel supply as a result of cancelled coal linkages as well as lack of PPAs. Essar Power MP Ltd owes lenders around ₹5,300 crore.

Published on September 26, 2018

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