Lib­erty House As­sem­bles Team to Bid for Tata Steel’s UK Biz

Wants to close deal fast and is aim­ing for a quick turn­around

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Megha.Man­davia @times­group.com

Mum­bai: San­jeev Gupta wants to strike a deal quickly on Tata Steel’s UK as­sets with the sale process all set to kick off on Mon­day. To­ward this end, the Gupta-led Lib­erty House is putting to­gether a panel with the aim of ac­quir­ing Tata Steel’s Port Tal­bot plant in Wales and pro­cess­ing oper­a­tions else­where in the UK.

Mallya, who left In­dia for the UK in March, has sep­a­rately been sum­moned by the En­force­ment Direc­torate to ap­pear on April 9 to an­swer ques­tions re­lated to ac­cu­sa­tions of money laun­der­ing.

The banks told SC on Thurs­day that they re­jected an of­fer made last week worth up to Rs 6,000 crore and then a re­vised one made on Wed­nes­day for Rs 6,400 crore. “We have re­jected the set­tle­ment out of hand af­ter a meet­ing of the con­sor­tium (of banks),” their lawyer Shyam Di­van said.

Mallya had last week of­fered to pay Rs 2,000 crore im­me­di­ately, another Rs 2,000 crore by Septem­ber-end to be raised by sell­ing stakes in United Brew­eries and a fur­ther Rs 2,000 crore should the de­funct air­line win a case against a for­eign en­gine­maker. The of­fer had sub­se­quently been raised to Rs 6,400 crore.

Di­van left the door open for fur­ther ne­go­ti­a­tions, say­ing the way for­ward would be for Mallya to re­veal his as­sets and de­posit a sub­stan­tial sum of money with the court to prove his bona fides.

“There ought to be a full and fair dis­clo­sure of his as­sets so we can make a rea­son­able as­sess­ment of what we need to do,” Di­van told the bench com­pris­ing Jus­tices Kurian Joseph and RF Na­ri­man. “Any of­fer can­not be based on con­tin­gen­cies,” he said, al­lud­ing to the re­jected of­fers.

A ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment is al­ways bet­ter than a con­vo­luted le­gal re­cov­ery process, he said. “He should bring down a sub­stan­tial amount (to the court) so we can move for­ward,” Di­van said, adding Mallya’s pres­ence would speed up mat­ters. “At this stage, his pres­ence would only ac­cel­er­ate the process, (it) will help in res­o­lu­tion,” he said, so that an “ef­fec­tive di­a­logue” can be had. He said the banks had no quib­ble with a Septem­ber 30 dead­line for re­pay­ing the dues. “If all the loans can be liq­ui­dated by a rea­son­able hori­zon, it will help us all,” he said.

Se­nior ad­vo­cate CS Vaidyanathan, ap­pear­ing for Mallya, did not re­sist the de­mand for a full dis­clo­sure of as­sets. He said Mallya had made such a state­ment in 2010 and that this could be up­dated and filed. He did, how­ever, op­pose the de­mand by the banks that the as­sets of Mallya’s wife and chil­dren be re­vealed, but this was in­cluded in the or­der at the in­sis­tence of Jus­tice Na­ri­man.

Vaidyanathan also said Mallya was not averse to pay­ing dues but that he did not have the cash. “There is no liq­uid money. Ev­ery­thing is tied up. We will need a court or­der to pay,” he said, pos­si­bly re­fer­ring to the fact that most of his as­sets have been frozen by some ju­di­cial fo­rum or the other.

The lawyer urged the court not to pass any or­der in­sist­ing on Mallya’s pres­ence at the hear­ing for now, say­ing that there were some dif­fi­cul­ties on that front with­out elab­o­rat­ing. He, how­ever, as­sured the court that he would have some­thing more spe­cific on this mat­ter by the next hear­ing.

FILE PHOTO

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