Lenders to Reliance Communications (RCom) recently turned down a proposal by the telco to sell 17 properties across the country to repay Ericsson Rs111 crore, bankers said. RCom’s move to partly repay Ericsson’s dues, bankers said, was an attempt at settling the insolvency petition filed against it at the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal. The proposal needs to be ratified by banks as they have initiated a strategic debt restructuring scheme for the company.
“Since the company’s loan account is in a standstill state till December it cannot sell assets without lenders’ permission,” a banker explained. It could not be immediately ascertained where these properties are located. RCOm did not respond to an email till the time of going to press.
Its gross debt in FY17 stood at Rs 45,000 crore, Rs 25,000 crore of which is due to domestic lenders. It was reported in June that the company advertised in newspapers to sell or lease the Reliance Centre building in Delhi and DAKC IT Park in Navi Mumbai for sale or joint development.
Last month, Ericsson India had filed insolvency petitions against RCom, Reliance Infratel and Reliance Telecom, all promoted by Anil Ambani. Ericsson is an operational creditor to RCom, which together with its subsidiaries owes the telecom equipment vendor `1,156 crore. The petition will be heard by the NCLT on November 9.
The Swedish multinational had earlier objected to the now-defunct merger proposal between RCom and Aircel, seeking a creditors’ meeting. RCom said in a regulatory filing on September 13 that it “intends to challenge the said petitions”.
Earlier this month, RCom’s plan to merge its wireless business with Malaysia’s Maxis group-owned Aircel was called off. An RCom statement had said the merger of the mobile businesses of RCom and Aircel has lapsed with mutual consent. Both the companies had signed a binding agreement to explore merger possibilities in September 2016. The merger was crucial to the debt reduction efforts of the Anil Ambani-led firm.
However, the company had said it will continue to try and monetise its tower and fibre assets, as well as real estate as already announced. “Legal and regulatory uncertainties, and various interventions by vested interests, have caused inordinate delays in receipt of relevant approvals for the proposed transaction,” RCom had said.