“We also make steel” was the catch line of a Tata Steel commercial. But on Tuesday metals and oil Vedanta could rightly make the same claim. The Kolkata bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on Tuesday approved the sale of Electrosteel Steels to the Anil-Agarwal promoted Vedanta. The transaction marks the first resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) of the top 12 distressed companies listed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Vedanta is acquiring the bankrupt steelmaker for Rs 5,320 crore. Of this, Rs 1,805 crore would be used to subscribe to the company’s equity while Rs 3,515 crore would be provided by “way of debt”. The entire amount, the company said in a statement, would be used to pay financial creditors. This implies the lenders are taking a fairly large haircut of 60% given the company’s outstanding debt is Rs 13,175.15 crore.
After the implementation of the resolution plan, Vedanta will hold a 90% stake in Electrosteel. The remaining 10% will be held by existing shareholders and financial creditors who get shares in exchange of the debt owed to them. The resolution for Electrosteel Steels is important since it signals the IBC process is working even if lenders are taking large haircuts; the 270-day deadline for the insolvency resolution process completion expired on Tuesday. Among other distressed companies on the RBI’s first list, resolution appears to be near for Bhushan Steel, where Tata Steel has been declared the highest bidder; Amtek Auto, where the highest bid was put in by Liberty House; and Jyoti Structures. Timelines could be extended for companies such as Lanco Infratech, Jaypee Infra and Era. By articulating its unwillingness to interfere in the IBC process, the Supreme Court has upheld the sanctity of the legislation.
The apex court made it clear it would not intervene during a hearing for a plea by Binani Industries that sought that the resolution of Binani Cement should be withdrawn from the purview of the IBC. Meanwhile, changes to the IBC are likely following recommendations of a 14-member panel set up by the government to review the legislation. The voting threshold for the committee of creditors to decide on a decision on a turnaround or a liquidation is expected to be lowered to 66% from 75%. Homebuyers could be treated on a par with financial creditors and rules for the provision of interim finance to the stressed companies are likely to be eased. Moreover, entities that are ineligible to bid would be defined clearly so as to avoid unnecessary litigation.