The country's ten leading business houses, including Reliance Group, Vedanta, Essar and Adani, have seen their total debt levels soar by 15 per cent to over Rs 6 lakh crore during the last fiscal while profitability continues to remain under pressure, a research report said today.
The cumulative debt of these groups, which also include Jaypee, GMR, GVK, JSW, Lanco and Videocon, is likely to further increase in the current fiscal because of Indian rupee depreciation and delays in projects being undertaken by many of them, Credit Suisse said its annual House of Debt report for India.
According to the report, the collective debt of these ten groups rose to Rs 6,31,025 crore at the end of last fiscal ended March 31, 2013, from Rs 5,47,361 crore a year ago.
"For most of them the debt increase has outpaced capex and asset sales are yet to take off. The rising stress is visible with some loans of Lanco, JPA, and (Anil Ambani-led) Reliance groups already being restructured," it said.
"The largest increases have been at groups such as GVK, Lanco and ADA where the gross debt levels are up 24 per cent year-over-year .... Asset sales¿key for de-leveraging for most of these¿have still not taken-off; only GMR and Videocon have had some success on that front," Credit Suisse said.
The report also warned of additional asset quality stress of banks because of growing debt levels of big business houses.
While large corporate NPLs (non performing loans) are still low, the overleverage in the large corporate segment is high and is a potential source of additional asset quality stress for banks, it said, while adding that corporate asset quality issues are likely to persist for the banking sector.
Observing that the rupee weakening could cause further "pain" going further, the report said that delays in power projects being undertaken by many of these groups could result in more of their debt being restructured.
However, companies such as Adani Power, Reliance Power and GMR Infra would see their operating capacities double if the projects were to come on stream as expected.
"Many corporates' loans are