Mutual fund houses ask SEBI to give time to Essel Group promoters to rope in strategic investors

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Published: February 6, 2019 5:32:24 PM

Mutual fund houses with an estimated Rs 8,000-crore exposure to Essel Group have asked regulator Sebi to permit them to modify the framework of Subhash Chandra-led Group's debenture trust deeds to give promoters time to rope in strategic investors, officials said.

Subhash Chandra, Essel group, Nityank lnfrapower, Zee Entertainment Enterprise, ZEEL, Essel Group entitiesThe Essel Group, on Sunday, sealed a formal agreement with its lender including mutual funds and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), to get time till September to de-leverage or pare its debt.

Mutual fund houses with an estimated Rs 8,000-crore exposure to Essel Group have asked regulator Sebi to permit them to modify the framework of Subhash Chandra-led Group’s debenture trust deeds to give promoters time to rope in strategic investors, officials said.

The Essel Group, on Sunday, sealed a formal agreement with its lender including mutual funds and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), to get time till September to de-leverage or pare its debt.

The agreement is with those lenders who have taken pledged shares of the group flagship and listed entities, Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Dish TV India.

The group, on January 27, had confirmed that an understanding with the lenders had been achieved, which was finalised last Sunday. The agreement was not to declare the company a defaulter as it had admitted that it could service the debt only up to December.

According to officials, several mutual fund houses have approached markets regulator Sebi asking it to revise the ‘terms and conditions’ of Essel Group’s debenture trust deeds.

The move will give the promoters time to bring in a strategic investor rather than the selling pledged shares in case of decline in the prices of the security, they added.

The debenture trust deed is a document made by the company, whereby trustees are appointed to protect the interest of debenture-holders before they are offered for public subscription. Also, it specifies the equity cover that promoters need to maintain.

When contacted, an Essel Group spokesperson said, “We do not comment on rumours”.

Fund houses are concerned that a potential default by the group’s promoters may force them to mark down investments and erode their net asset value.

Mutual funds have a total exposure of about Rs 8,000 crore to Essel Group’s debentures, against which shares have been pledged as collateral, at the end of December.

Among the fund houses that have an exposure to the Group include Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund, HDFC Mutual Fund, ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund, Reliance Nippon Life Asset Management and Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund.

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