Over the last week, Bank of Baroda (BoB) has put on sale non-performing assets (NPAs) worth Rs 7,655 crore, including its exposures to some accounts named in the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) two lists of bankruptcy cases, such as Essar Steel, Bhushan Power & Steel, Soma Enterprise and Visa Steel. BoB’s aggregate exposure to these accounts is Rs 3,004 crore.
BoB has also put on the block its Rs 329-crore exposure to Binani Cement, which it had itself dragged to insolvency court. Among the other exposures put up for sale by BoB are Jindal India Thermal Power (Rs 336.41 crore), Jaiprakash Power Ventures (Rs 230.82 crore) and GMR Chhattisgarh Energy (Rs 218.37 crore). BoB’s decision to sell its exposures in these accounts runs counter to an understanding between banks to not to sell individual exposures to accounts undergoing insolvency proceedings. The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) is known to have issued specific guidelines to this effect to member banks. Earlier, SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar has said that the bank does not approve of lenders selling to ARCs their exposures to accounts that are already undergoing the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP).
“There is no question of our selling to ARC once the account has gone to National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT),” he said, adding, “but each individual bank have their own compulsions, policies or strategy. So I would not like to comment on that.” More recently, however, some banks have found this approach to be untenable. For instance, after IDBI Bank’s March quarter results, MK Jain, then managing director and chief executive at the bank, said it did plan to sell some exposures to second-list companies.
“There are one or two accounts in the first list and a couple of accounts in the second list (which will be sold),” he said, adding, “Wherever there is delay in resolution or the amount which we may realise through the IBC process may be very less, those kind of assets we will put up (for sale).” Union Bank of India has also sold its exposures to two accounts on the second list. “We sold them before they got admitted (for insolvency proceedings). After admission, we are not selling any assets,” Rajkiran Rai G, MD and CEO of Union Bank, said in May.
From RBI’s first list of 12 accounts, only two have undergone resolution. There is uncertainty over the remaining accounts on the first list and the 29 on the second list. The two accounts from the first list put up for sale by BoB — Essar Steel and Bhushan Power & Steel — are yet to achieve resolution as a result of a furious amount of litigation, centred largely around the eligibility of prospective bidders for the assets. Cases involving bidders for both assets have reached the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). Binani Cement, too, is caught in a takeover battle in the appellate tribunal.
Insolvency proceedings against Visa Steel were stayed by the Orissa High Court in March. In May, the stay was vacated and the Kolkata bench of the NCLT) asked State Bank of India (SBI) to file a mentioning petition in order to fast-track its case against the steel maker. As for Soma Enterprise, its debt was reported to have been recast under the strategic debt restructuring (SDR) in late 2017. It is unclear if SDR implementation has been successful in the account or if it has slipped as a result of the RBI’s February 12 circular, which withdrew all existing restructuring schemes with effect from March 1.