Tata Power Company plans to sell its entire direct and indirect stake of 17.5% in the group company — Tata Communications to pare debt, as it strategises to simplify and straighten its cross holdings in group firms. Anil Sardana, managing director and chief executive officer of Tata Power, said in an interview to CNBC TV18 on Tuesday that as part of simplification of cross holdings in group companies the company has kept its investment in Tata Communication as “Held for Sale” and it would use the proceeds to pare its debt. “We have direct and indirect stake in Tata Communications. One directly through Tata Power of 4.5%, and another through Panatone. Together its around 17.5%. There is no clarity on timeline as still there are some issues between the two companies that are being worked out,” Sardana said.
“There is a growing interest to see that all cross holdings in group companies are simplified and straightened. We will continue to take advantage of this entire offerings and hope that all cross holdings will get us reasonably good amount of cash that would be used to pare our debt,” Sardana added. As per Tuesday’s closing price of shares on the Bombay Stock Exchange, Tata Power’s stake in Tata Communications is valued at Rs 3,368 crore. Tata Power holds a 7% stake in Tata Tele Maharashtra, 8% in Tata Tele Services, 40% in Panatone, which is the financial Investment arm of Tata Communications, and 17.5% in Tata Communications.
The company had earlier said it plans to deleverage its consolidated debt of Rs 46,781 crore through monetisation of non-core assets such as the stake in Tata Telecommunications, besides its holdings in group companies. The decision was taken after the apex court ruling in June denied compensatory tariff to imported coal-based power plants making Tata Power’s Mundra ultra mega power plant in Gujarat unviable with accumulated losses of Rs 7,000 crore in the last six years of operations.
Tata Power is also hopeful that lenders will soon arrive at a resolution for the Mundra issue as they are working to get all the procurers along with Gujarat Urja Vitran Nigam to come together and take a hair-cut to arrive at a solution. “Lenders have been taking a keen interest in this matter and they continue to pursue this with GUVNL and other procurers. Procurers are keen to get the competitive power for simple reason that it’s one of the most competitive power. They also want all the partners to take some amount of haircut as this power is far more competitive power compared to all other options they have. The discussions continue and we are hopeful that lenders will manage to get all the procurers together and some kind of answer will arrive soon,” Sardana said.
With respect to operations at Mundra, Sardana said, “The Ebitda at the project has always been positive and by virtue of our action of blending of coal at the plant, we have managed to reduce the under recoveries further. The under recoveries of Rs 250 crore in the last quarter, around Rs 113 crore was not a cash under recovery, but a mark-to-market for exchange adjustment. We are through other efficient methods trying to reduce it further,” Sardana said.