Warranted time to complete debt restructuring: Essar Steel

Jul 17, 2017, 20:35
Warranted time to complete debt restructuring: Essar Steel

This is a big boost for banks and it will further make way for fast-tracking cases to be heard against 11 other defaulting firms filed by banks at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

Essar Steel also said that whereas other companies had shut shop, Essar Steel was still functional with an annual turnover of Rs 20,000 crore.

The Central Bank, after receiving sweeping powers to resolve bad loans through an amendment to the Banking Regulation Act, issued the 13 June circular on the criterion that the total banking exposure of the company should be at least Rs5,000 crore and 60% of this exposure should have turned non-performing as of March 2016. It may be noted that Gujarat HC had stayed an insolvency proceedings against Essar Steel as the company had argued before the court that it was in advanced stage of restructuring its debt.

The Gujarat High Court on Monday dismissed Essar Steel's writ petition challenging the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) directive to a consortium of banks to initiate insolvency proceedings against the company for its high non-performing assets.

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However, the Court observed that it can not be held that RBI's directions are in the nature of classification or such classification is irrational, unjust, arbitrary or discriminatory.

RBI had last week told the High Court that there was no singling out of Essar Steel for initiating bankruptcy proceedings and that the company was only one among 12 companies that have piled up debt beyond their capacity to repay or even service. These 12 companies owe lenders over Rs 5,000 crore of outstanding loans each.

In its judgement, the high court while disposing of the petition has indicated that all of these issues should be considered by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) before taking any decision on merits, it said. While arguing before the court, the RBI counsel had informed the court that these 12 NPA accounts represent 25 per cent of the total NPA of Rs. 7,50,000 crore, which forms 5 per cent of the country's GDP. It had said it was in talks with banks about restructuring repayments.

"We respect the decision of the high court and will accordingly be raising these issues for consideration by the NCLT", it said. Standard Chartered Bank had also moved the NCLT against Esaar. "The court observed that SCB can initiate its own bankruptcy proceedings", Mr. Sanghi added.

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