Bidding battle: Adhunik Metaliks lenders reject Liberty House offer

By: | Published: December 13, 2018 4:30 AM

UK-based firm had offered to pay outstanding amount of `410 cr in two instalments by January 15

adhunik metalics, ncltAfter hearing the arguments from the counsels for Liberty House and the committee of creditors (CoC) for AML, the Kolkata bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) said this is not a “fit case” in which an interim relief is to be allowed.

Lenders to bankrupt Adhunik Metaliks (AML) on Wednesday rejected UK-based Liberty House’s offer to pay an outstanding amount of around Rs 410 crore in two instalments by January 15, 2019. They also turned down its condition that out of the total amount, it be allowed to deposit `100 crore — claimed by operational creditor MSTC — in an escrow account.

The issue of state-run MSTC claiming around Rs 100 crore is now pending for consideration before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

After hearing the arguments from the counsels for Liberty House and the committee of creditors (CoC) for AML, the Kolkata bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) said this is not a “fit case” in which an interim relief is to be allowed. The bench allowed CoC to go ahead with further course of actions it wants to take in this case.

Significantly, now the CoC can negotiate with fresh bidders or all the other bidders which could not earlier match up to Liberty House’s bid. The next hearing is scheduled on January 3.

Earlier on Wednesday, aggrieved lenders moved the Kolkata bench of NCLT after Liberty House, a part of Sanjeev Gupta-led GFG Alliance, had failed to make the upfront cash payment within the stipulated time for acquiring the steel company under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). Following this, the international metals and industrial group offered to pay `100 crore within 14 days and the balance rs 310 crore by January 15.

“But of out of Rs300 crore, Rs 100 crore should be put in an escrow account because MSTC is claiming this amount and the matter is pending at NCLAT,” said Liberty House’s counsel Ratnanko Banerjee in his submission before the bench of justice Jinan KR. Notably, MSTC, which is an operational creditor to Adhunik Metaliks, has moved NCLAT, claiming an amount of around Rs 100 crore.

“The resolution plan (submitted by Liberty House) was prepared on the assumption that liquidation value payable to the MSTC is nil. Now, MSTC is claiming the CIRP cost, which is an issue. If something happened at NCLAT, `100 crore would become a part of the resolution plan,” Banerjee added. He said according to the resolution plan for AML, with Rs 50 crore already laying in escrow account, Liberty House will have to pay around `400 crore as per the resolution plan approved by the NCLT.

In his reply, Joy Saha, the counsel for the committee of creditors (CoC) for AML, said, “We are not agreeable to the conditions it (Liberty House) has been putting with the caveats.”

“At the time they (Liberty House) were submitting the resolution plan, they knew MSTC had a claim. In spite of that they submitted the resolution plan. They agreed to a timeframe, they know that MSTC can go up to the Supreme Court. So, this is not subject to the ultimate outcome of what MSTC would get. The resolution plan itself envisages that certain amount to be paid to the operational creditors,” Saha said.

“Liberty House has filed submitted three resolution plans (for three insolvent firms). And, in three resolution plans, they are dragging their feet,” he added.

In Adhunik Metaliks case, Liberty House had to make an upfront cash payment of Rs 410 crore to the secured financial creditors by September. However, the UK-based group had filed an application in October in order to seek an extension of the deadline to make the payment the outstanding amount.

“With the successful resolution applicant failing to pay within the stipulated timeline, we can negotiate with fresh bidders or all the other bidders which could not match up to Liberty House’s bid earlier,” the CoC counsel said in his submission before the tribunal.

The Kolkata bench of the NCLT on July 17 approved the resolution plan submitted by Liberty House for acquiring Adhunik Metaliks under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). There were only two resolution applicants for the steel manufacturing company — Liberty House and Maharashtra Seamless of the DP Jindal Group. Liberty House was identified as the highest bidder (H1) by the creditors, while the plan of Maharashtra Seamless was rejected as it was offering less value than the liquidation value of the company.

Lenders to AML are SBI, Punjab National Bank, ICICI Bank, IFCI, Punjab & Sind Bank, UCO Bank, Allahabad Bank, Bank of Baroda, Corporation Bank and SREI Infrastructure Finance, among others.

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