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Russia’s VTB seeks apex court approval to bid for Essar Steel

Crinium Bay Holdings, a member of Russia’s VTB group, has moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to bid independently or jointly with “a suitable partner” for embattled Essar Steel (ESIL).

The committee of creditors of Essar Steel last week declared global giant ArcelorMittal as the highest bidder for the bankrupt Essar Steel, pipping Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Group.

Crinium Bay Holdings, a member of Russia’s VTB group, has moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to bid independently or jointly with “a suitable partner” for embattled Essar Steel (ESIL). VTB, through Crinium Bay, which holds a 40% equity in Numetal, had earlier submitted the resolution plans for Essar in its capacity as a shareholder of Mauritius-based Numetal, which was later on October 4 held to be ineligible to bid by the SC.

The committee of creditors of Essar Steel last week declared global giant ArcelorMittal as the highest bidder for the bankrupt Essar Steel, pipping Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Group. While the name of the proposed partner was not disclosed, Crinium Bay said the partner would be one “with the right experience and capability to run a steel plant..”. Crinium said it would be in the interest of fair bidding and public interest to ensure maximisation of values.

It claimed it was eligible and qualified under Section 29A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 to bid for the debt-laden company. The application said both Crinium Bay, an indirectly held subsidiary of VTB Bank (PJSC) and VTB were eligible to participate in the Essar’s insolvency process. Moreover, it stated, it was entitled to submit a new resolution plan by itself and without acting jointly or in concert with any of its prior shareholder partners of Numetal.

“In interest of justice, the applicant aims to ensure that it is allowed to submit a new RP, whether in its independent capacity or in conjunction with a suitable partner with the right experience and capability to run a steel plant of this magnitude,” the Crinium said in its application.

Giving assurance to the court that it will fully cooperate with CoC for early resolution of ESIL, Crinium said that the SC has held “Numetal to be ineligible for reasons, which are extraneous to VTB, and hence, it is believed that VTB should not suffer any disqualification and/or any eligibility and/or ability to submit a new resolution plan independently.”

The Supreme Court on October 4 had granted one more opportunity to the world’s largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal and Russia’s VTB Capital-backed NuMetal to bid for Essar Steel if they clear the dues of their related companies by October 18 to be eligible to bid. The court had said that both the players would be allowed to resubmit their bids that were originally placed on April 2 (the second bid by Arcelor and Numetal) to the CoC once they clear their dues.

The Lakshmi Mittal-owned company has been on a murky legal battle with other bidders, especially the Russian VTB Bank-promoted NuMetal to take over Essar Steel. In the second round of bids, ArcelorMittal had offered upfront Rs 35,000 crore to the lenders and had committed to infuse another Rs 8,000 crore into the company. Subsequently, the company had proposed to incr its upfront offer to Rs 42,000 crore but the Supreme Court had said that once the company cured its ineligibility its bid placed on April 2 (the second bid) is to be considered.

Vedanta, which had placed its bid in April, had committed around Rs 35,000 crore upfront to the lenders and another Rs 1,000 crore after three years. It had offered to infuse Rs 5,000 crore into the company. Essar Steel was among the 12 companies referred by the RBI for Insolvency proceedings.

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