In a serious dereliction of duty, the risk management committee of the now bankrupt IL&FS met just once between 2015 and 2018, in July 2015, the petition filed by the ministry of corporate affairs in the Mumbai bench of the NCLT, notes.
In a serious dereliction of duty, the risk management committee of the now bankrupt IL&FS met just once between 2015 and 2018, in July 2015, the petition filed by the ministry of corporate affairs in the Mumbai bench of the NCLT, notes. Hemant Bhargava, managing director, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), which has a 25.3% equity stake in IL&FS, was the chairman of the committee. The other members included Arun K Saha, joint MD and CEO, RC Bhargava, chairman, Maruti Suzuki, and Michael Pinto, former shipping secretary.
It was during 2014 and 2018 that the infrastructure financier’s loans ballooned with the consolidated debt climbing to Rs 91,091.3 crore from Rs 48,671.3 crore. As corporate watchers point out, the committee needed to be all the more vigilant since since no one on the present board is a promoter or holds any equity. In its limited review report the statutory auditor SRBC & Co had drawn the company’s board of directors’ attention to the “existence of material uncertainty on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern” and the “management plan to raise funds”.
The petition, filed in the Mumbai NCLT, points out that IL&FS“relied on good ratings from CARE and Icra to raise funds, as recently as in August when it picked up Rs 50 crore from its debt investors with a green shoe option of Rs 25 crore. The prospectus put on record a profit of Rs 584 crore, but “gave no hint on its consolidated losses of Rs 2,400 crore”. Although IL&FS reported a consolidated loss of Rs 2,400 crore in the year to March, 2018, the rating agencies downgraded the company’s debt only in September.
The company’s interest bill doubled to Rs 7,922.8 crore in March, 2018 from Rs 3,970.7 crore in 2014. Accountants point out that it is surprising the rating agencies didn’t downgrade IL&FS earlier even though the company increased the intangible assets to Rs 20,004.1 crore in March 2018 from Rs 18,054.05 crore as on March 31, 2017. The company, the petition notes,”is well aware of the precarious and critical financial position but it continued to present to the stakeholders a hunky dory scenario…”.
The petition notes that the company declared it would be declaring a dividend of Rs 6 per share to its equity shareholders and that the company is “current on all its debt obligations”. After the issue closed on August 28, the company declared it had slashed the dividend payout to Rs 1 per share and by September 29, two days before the company’s AGM, it scrapped the entire payout consequent to the debenture trustee not permitting the dividend payments.
Given that IL&FS owes Rs 57,000 crore or the bulk of its dues of a whopping Rs 91,000 crore, to state-owned lenders, the government believes that as many as 1,500 smaller NBFC may have their licences cancelled in the wake of the crisis. “If the exposure of banks to the IL&FS Group is assumed to be about Rs 53,000 crore, then considering that the exposure of the entire banking sector to all the NBFCs is about Rs 3.3 lakh crore, IL&FS Group is not inconsequential, but, critical to the financial stability as its share in the total exposure of the banks to the NBFC sector is about 16%,” the petition notes.
At a consolidated level, the borrowing of IL&FS from banks and financial institutions via debentures, loans, cash credit and commercial paper) comes to about Rs 63,000 crore as per the balance sheet of 2017-18. The petition notes that the ex-directors, namely Ravi Ramaswamy Parthasarathy, Ramesh Bawa and present directors, namely Hari Sankaran and Karunakaran Ramachand, are likely to flee the country overnight, therefore the ministry has to make a request for look-out notice for these persons.