Info-tech

Lenders to block insolvency suit against Reliance Communications

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 30, 2017

A file photo of Anil Ambani.China Development Bank insolvency move against RCom will derail the efforts made on the asset monetisation front, which are in the final stages.

If order gets passed, lenders will have to provision for 50 per cent of their debt

Nearly 30 lenders of debt-ridden Reliance Communications (RCom) have opposed a petition by China Development Bank (CDB) to file an insolvency case against the telecom company. CDB, a lender to RCom, had filed the suit with the National Company Law Tribunalin Mumbai on November 24 under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

At RCom’s Committee of Creditors Meeting held on Wednesday, the lenders – both foreign and Indian – voted to oppose the petition. The lenders have also decided to appoint J Sagar Associates as their legal counsel, as they prepare to oppose the petition at the admission stage itself, sources close to the development, told BusinessLine.

The lenders are opposing the CDB move as the passing of an insolvency order on RCom will force them to provision for at least 50 per cent of debt in their books with immediate effect – upwards of ₹25,000 crore. It will also derail the efforts made on the asset monetisation front, which are in the final stages, one of the sources said.

Compared to this, if the banks can prevail over CDB, they will have to pay only ₹7,000 crore to convert that much debt into 51 per cent equity in RCom.

The lenders were led by State Bank of India and include Punjab National Bank, Standard Chartered and HDFC, among others.

When contacted, an RCom spokesperson confirmed this, adding that the total number of lenders who had decided to oppose the move stood at 31.

Total debt

RCom, which is reeling under a ₹45,000-crore debt, owes about ₹7,500 crore to CDB. With interest, this increases to about ₹9,000 crore. This makes CDB the first lender to file insolvency proceedings against billionaire Anil Ambani-controlled RCom.

The tribunal is likely to hear an admission plea in the coming weeks, sources close to the development said, adding that it has appointed Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) India as resolution professional.

Under the latest proposal, made on October 30 to the lenders, RCom was aiming for a Zero Loan Write-Off Plan, which means lenders will not have to take haircuts.

At its Annual General Meeting on September 26, RCom shareholders had approved the issuance of equity shares to lenders by converting loans.

According to a debt resolution proposal made to RCom’s domestic and foreign lenders, the Anil Ambani-controlled company is making another attempt to pare its ₹45,000-crore debt.

Now, RCom intends to repay up to ₹17,000 crore through monetisation of assets, and another ₹10,000 crore through the sale and development of real estate space.

The company is also looking to sell some of its assets to the Mukesh Ambani-backed Reliance Jio.

Published on November 30, 2017
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