Billionaire LN Mittal-led ArcelorMittal is likely to repay the dues of Uttam Galva and KSS Petron only if its bid for Essar Steel is recognised as the winning bid, bankers with direct knowledge of the development told FE. On Tuesday, ArcelorMittal, one of the two key contenders for the bankrupt Essar Steel, transferred Rs 7,000 crore into a State Bank of India (SBI) escrow account for the payment of dues of the two firms in an attempt to make its bid for Essar Steel eligible.
“The money from the escrow account will be released only if they are recognised as the H1 bidder,” a senior banker said on condition of anonymity. “The move is positive, and we will respond accordingly. However, a lot will depend on what the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) says on Thursday.” The NCLAT will hear all the petitions filed by Numetal and ArcelorMittal on Thursday, and its decision is keenly awaited by Essar Steel’s committee of creditors (CoC).
Numetal had first approached the NCLAT challenging the National Company Law Tribunal’s (NCLT) order that Essar Steel’s resolution professional (RP) Satish Kumar Gupta and the CoC will have to reconsider the first round of bids placed by the two bidders. ArcelorMittal moved the NCLAT challenging the disqualification of its first bid. Later, Numetal challenged the CoC’s decision that both the bidders will have to repay existing debt to become eligible. It is also understood to have asked the NCLAT to consider the second round of bids.
On May 8, the CoC had notified both the bidders that they would be given seven day’s time to clear all outstanding dues of companies in which they were promoters. The deadline for repaying the dues ended on Tuesday. “ArcelorMittal can confirm it has written to the CoC for Essar Steel in response to the letter received on May 8. The details of this letter are confidential,” an official spokesperson for ArcelorMittal said on Tuesday.
“However, ArcelorMittal maintains that its offer Essar Steel, submitted on February 12, is and always has been eligible. Any offer to pay any outstanding loans of companies where we only had a passive stake with no management or governance role, would be made without prejudice to demonstrate the seriousness of our commitment to India and Essar Steel,” the spokesperson added.
ArcelorMittal’s first bid for Essar Steel was disqualified by the RP on the ground that it was a promoter of Uttam Galva and KSS Petron, both of which have defaulted on loans. ArcelorMittal held a 29.5% stake in Uttam Galva and was classified as a promoter of the company by the stock exchanges. It sold its stake in February, before submitting the bid for Essar Steel. Since then, it has also been declassified as a promoter by the stock exchanges. Numetal’s bid was disqualified since one of the persons associated with the company, Rewant Ruia, is related to the promoters of Essar Steel.
The shareholders of Numetal include Russia’s VTB Bank and engineering firm Tyazhpromexport, financial investor Aurora Enterprises (in which Ruia has an interest) and commodity trading company Indo International Trading.
Last week, a Numetal spokesperson said neither Numetal, nor its shareholders have any loans overdue with any creditors in India. The spokesperson also said that Numetal’s other shareholders have already bought out Aurora’s shareholding in the company.