With promoters and prospective buyers fighting it out in the tribunals, the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) is mired in litigation. On the one hand, promoters are going all out to try and get back their companies while, on the other, prospective buyers are trying to get their bids accepted even after a winner has been declared. Some, it would appear, are simply trying to disrupt the process. However, it might all be worth it if, in the end, bankers get a better deal.
On Wednesday, Binani Industries (BIL) asked the appellate tribunal to consider terminating the insolvency process altogether for its subsidiary Binani Cement. This is not the first time BIL has wanted to pull the cement firm out of the purview of the IBC; it had earlier approached the Supreme Court, but the apex court didn’t think much of the idea. It expressed its discomfort in no uncertain terms saying the IBC process should not be bypassed. The Supreme Court’s opinion was hailed by most experts, with them saying that the sanctity of the IBC had been upheld. BIL was forced to withdraw its plea.
This time around, Binani has backed its plea with a promise to clear all dues to creditors within a stipulated time. The question is whether the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT ), will agree to such a proposal. From the creditors’ point of view, there can’t be a better deal because they will be paid in full. It is hard to argue, therefore, that the tribunals should not accept BIL’s plea to allow Binani Cement to be brought out of the resolution process.
Essentially, the IBC process is meant to help banks and other creditors recover their loans, within a stipulated time, thereby freeing up credit for further use. Should the tribunal rule in favour of BIL, the decision would not in any way go against the grain of the IBC. While prospective buyers will be miffed because they would have spent time and money while putting together their bids, they can be compensated for their efforts if need be. So far, most of the prospective buyers aren’t exactly paying top dollar for the distressed assets.
Vedanta’s bid for Electrosteel Steels, for instance, would require lenders to take a haircut of 60%, in Jyoti Structures, it is 85%, while for Monnet Ispat and Amtek Auto, it would be 72%. In some instances, there is the possibility of the companies being liquidated in which case lenders will recover very little and thousands of jobs would be lost.
In the current environment, therefore, where banks stand to lose a lot of taxpayer money, it is important to consider options that would allow them to recover as much as possible. So, if the promoters are willing to cough up the dues, in full, in return for their company, the request should be considered. However, prospective buyers—Dalmia Bharat and Ultratech, in this instance—should be given a chance to outbid the promoters.
That way, the company would go to the highest bidder—either the promoters, or the prospective buyers—and the objective of the IBC would have been achieved. However, the promoters can be handed back their company only if they clear all their dues.