The Supreme Court on Monday restrained Reliance Infratel from selling its tower and fibre assets to Reliance Jio for the next two days, that is till Wednesday — the day when the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) is scheduled to decide on the matter. A bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman, before staying the NCLAT order of April 6, said: “We will set aside the NCLAT order. How can this order be passed in this case? However, it later stayed the impugned order for two days until NCLAT disposed of the matter on Wednesday.” The order was passed on an appeal filed by HSBC Daisy Investments and some other minority shareholders who have about 4% stake in Reliance Infratel.
The minority shareholders had challenged the appellate tribunal’s order of April 6 on the grounds that the appellate tribunal acted in “undue haste without appreciating the irregularities evident on the face of record in the proposed sale of assets” of Reliance Infratel. And this was allowed even though the SBI or the conveners of the Joint Lenders Forum were neither parties before the National Company Law Tribunal, Mumbai, nor had they filed any appeal before the NCLAT, they said in their appeal.
The NCLT interim order of March 12 restraining Reliance Infratel and others from selling its assets was passed on HSBC Daisy’s plea alleging oppression of minority shareholders and mismanagement for not taking their consent for the asset sale as per the Articles of Association of the company.
In July 2007, HSBC Daisy Investment, along with a clutch of other investors, had invested around Rs 1,100 crore in Reliance Infratel for about 5% stake, which has now come down to 4.26%. In a statement on Monday, Reliance Communications said, “based on legal advise, RCom believes the claim of minority investors in the tower and fibre proceeds, which is fully disputed by RCom, can at best be Rs 200-300 crore… Accordingly, RCom remains confident of completion of its asset monetisation programme of approximately Rs 25,000 crore within the next few weeks, in the best interests of its secured lenders”.