Sunday, 25 August, 2019

India's RCom goes to bankruptcy court to resolve debt burden

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications to file for bankruptcy after failing to repay debt Anil Ambani chairperson of Reliance Communications. | Shailesh Andrade Reuters
Russell Knight | 03 February, 2019, 18:32

After 18 months of unsuccessful attempts to revive the firm, the board of Reliance Communications (RCom) made a decision to take the debt-ridden telecom company to bankruptcy court.

Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson had filed the first petition before National Company Law Tribunal to invoke insolvency proceedings against RCom.

The decision comes at a time when RCom has failed to abide with a Supreme Court order given in October to repay its dues of Rs. 550 crore plus interest towards telecom equipment manufacturer Ericsson India Pvt.

When RCom challenged this order in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), the NCLT order was stayed and the company's management was allowed to function and settle its dues.

If the NCLT accepts RCom's plea, the company will get bankruptcy protection - a 180-day moratorium (extendable to 90 more days) on repayment of loans.

The company stated that its Board of Directors had reviewed the progress of its debt resolution plans.

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"Resolution through NCLT is in the best interests of all stakeholders, ensuring finality, certainty and transparency through a time-bound court approved process", stated RCom on Friday.

"The board noted that, despite the passage of over 18 months, lenders have received zero proceeds from the proposed asset-monetisation plans, and the overall debt-resolution process is yet to make any headway", the company said in a statement on Friday.

It is estimated that RCom has been reeling under debt of over Rs 46,000 crore.

The company had chalked out plans to sell assets for about Rs 25,000 crore and use it for clearing debt of around 40 lenders.

Besides Ericsson, RCom also needs to pay Rs232 crore to the minority shareholders of Reliance Infratel, including HSBC Daisy Investments. RCom has already completed the sale of its media convergence nodes and related infrastructure assets worth ₹ 2,000 crore, besides selling fibre worth ₹ 3,000 crore to Reliance Jio. "It is public money, and we will take it from whoever owns it in case the corporate guarantee that RCom is providing us does not prove to be sufficient", a senior official at the telecom department had said, a stand which led to the collapse of the deal.

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