Vedanta, which lost the bid to ArcelorMittal for a small difference of Rs 2,000 crore, is looking to revise its offer, while VTB Bank of Russia wants to bid solo after its partner Numetal was found ineligible.
After ArcelorMittal committed to clearing outstanding dues of Rs 7,000 crore, it was selected the preferred bidder by lenders of bankrupt Essar Steel under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) last week. However, it may not be an easy win for the Lakshmi Mittal company, which has been eyeing the debt-laden Essar Steel to foray into the steel business in India.
Anil Aggrawal’s Vedanta and VTB Bank of Russia, both, have petitioned the Supreme Court for an entry back into the race. Vedanta, which lost the bid to ArcelorMittal for a small difference of Rs 2,000 crore, is looking to revise its offer, while VTB Bank of Russia wants to bid solo after its partner Numetal was found ineligible.
Against the outstanding debt of Rs 49,000 crore, ArcelorMittal offered Rs 35,000 crore upfront to lenders and committed to infusing another Rs 8,000 crore into the company. Vedanta’s upfront offer was also Rs 35,000 crore but it offered to infuse Rs 5,000 crore immediately and promised another Rs 1,000 crore in three years.
Essar Steel was one of the twelve big accounts identified by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for immediate resolution under the IBC. When it was found that Essar Steel’s promoter Essar Group was trying to bid for the company, the government brought in Ordinance to include Section 29A to bar wilful defaulters, defaulting promoters and related parties from the process.
Initially, both ArcelorMittal and VTB Russia backed-Numetal were found ineligible under the section 29A. ArcelorMittal and Lakshmi Mittal, both, held stakes in defaulter Uttam Galva Steel and KSS Petron respectively.
Even as they sold their stakes before bidding for Essar Steel, the Resolution Professional argued that they continued being promoters of the NPA accounts for more than twelve months. VTB Russia backed-Numetal was found ineligible as Rewant Ruia, the son of Essar Steel’s promoter Ravi Ruia, was a beneficiary.
Vedanta joined the race when fresh bids were invited for the company. However, after a long-drawn legal battle, the National Company Law Appalette Tribunal (NCLAT) declared Numetal’s bid of Rs 37,000 crore eligible after it severed ties with the Ruias, while asking ArcelorMittal to clear past dues. It was overturned in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, on October 4, declared both bids ineligible giving them two weeks time clear dues. The top court observed that there was a “looming presence” of Rewant Ruia even as his stakes were bought by VTB. Since Numetal had to clear the entire debt of Rs 49,000 crore of Essar Steel to become eligible again, VTB petitioned the court seeking permission to bid for the company alone.
There is a great possibility that Vedanta will be given a chance to revise the offer. Previously, other companies were given the chance to revise their offers in other cases under the Swiss Challenge system. And should the court allow VTB to go solo, the race will become tougher for ArcelorMittal.