Transstroy, a company that owes lenders Rs 4,300 crore, was buying luxury cars, just ahead of the account being classified by a bank a non-performing asset (NPA). In January this year, Transstroy signed three car loan agreements for Rs 4.73 crore with Alphera Financial Services, a financing arm of BMW Group Financial Services, to buy a Lamborghini Huracan coupe, a Mercedes Benz S350 and a BMW Z4 sDrive. Pertinently, the Alphera loan documents were all signed in the last week of January 2015 — within the 90-days duration, at the end of which, the loan was declared an NPA by Dena Bank.
A glance at some of the loans taken in the last one year throws up some interesting details. In April 2014, Transstroy had taken a car loan of Rs 2.46 crore from UCO Bank to buy a Range Rover, priced at Rs 2.94 crore.
Following Dena Bank’s classifying of Transstroy as an NPA, another public sector bank has classified the exposure to the firm as an SMA-2 (Special Mention Account-2) account.
Around 14 banks have lent Transstroy funds through a multi-banking arrangement rather than a consortium.
Repeated attempts to reach the company’s officials based in its corporate office in Hyderabad were unsuccessful. The company’s chairman, managing director and CEO is Sridhar Cherukuri, a graduate from IIM-Bangalore.
According to Bloomberg data, the 48-year-old served as a part-time non-official director of Vijaya Bank from July 10, 2008 to July 9, 2011.
The joint lenders’ forum (JLF) mechanism, introduced in January 2014 by the Reserve Bank of India, created a platform known by the acronym CRILC — where banks will get regular updates on accounts which have multiple lenders. As such, if CRILC is effective, it should not be possible for any company to be paying some banks while delaying repayments for others without their knowledge.
Some bankers FE spoke to were surprised that the Transstroy account should have turned an NPA or an SMA-2 in such a short span of time, since the company’s total revenues jumped 45% to Rs 4,584 crore in 2013-14, with profits of R251 crore, a rise of 31%. Transstroy’s financial costs had risen 62% year-on-year to Rs 307 crore in FY14.
Transstroy India is the holding company for operations in four sectors — highways (roads and bridges), power, irrigation and ports — through subsidiaries and associate companies. The company has at least 19 subsidiaries, the majority of them SPVs floated to manage various roads, including one in Singapore. The company is also a partner in three joint ventures. Its major business is the construction of highways with orders under implementation from National Highways Authority of India, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh Road Development Corporations.
According to its website, it is setting up a 400 MW gas-based power plant in Telangana. However, the information has not been updated and hence could not be verified as being the latest information.
The company was in news after a consortium led by Transstroy-JSC UES won the bid to construct the controversial Indirasagar Polavaram irrigation project in 2013, which involved a dam constructed across the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh. The winning bid was at Rs 4,054 crore, according to news reports.