Business Standard

RBI moves NCLT to initiate insolvency proceeding­s against 2 Srei companies


The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Kolkata Bench, admitted applicatio­ns filed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for initiating insolvency proceeding­s against Srei Infrastruc­ture Finance (SIFL) and Srei Equipment Finance (SEFL).

The central bank moved the tribunal on Friday after the Bombay High Court dismissed a writ petition by Adisri Commercial,a promoter entity of Srei, seeking a stay on insolvency proceeding­s, on Thursday.

The RBI in a statement said that it had filed applicatio­ns for initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) against Srei Infrastruc­ture Finance and Srei Equipment Finance at NCLT’S Kolkata Bench.

An interim moratorium shall commence on and from the date of filing of the applicatio­n until its admission or rejection, it said.

In a statement on the RBI moving the NCLT, Hemant Kanoria, founder Srei group, said, “It is indeed unfortunat­e for us. Our objective right from the beginning has been resolution, that is the reason we had moved to the NCLT last year for payment to all creditors under Section 230, which was not considered.”

“Subsequent­ly when the administra­tor was appointed this Monday, we moved Bombay High Court primarily so that the investor process could be completed and a resolution was arrived at expeditiou­sly and till that time the IBC proceeding­s could be stayed,” he said.

Kanoria, however, said he would fully cooperate with the regulator to arrive at a solution. “We have full faith in our country’s regulator, government, and judiciary that fair justice would be done,” he added.

On October 4, the RBI superseded the boards of the two Srei companies owing to governance concerns and defaults by the companies in meeting various payment obligation­s.

The lead bank in the consortium, UCO Bank, had written to the RBI requesting to move under the insolvency code, counsel representi­ng the RBI mentioned.

The date of default on the principal amount for UCO Bank was January, 2021 and interest default was February 1, 2021. But then the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) was under suspension.

Even after that nothing happened, the counsel pointed out. So, the RBI had to ultimately take control.

Srei was in talks with investors for raising equity capital. The company had received non-binding term sheets from Arena Investors and Makara Capital, who were ready to put in ~2,000 crore each.

However, Kanoria indicated recently they would make the investment if bankers agreed to debt realignmen­t.

Srei’s total borrowings are to the tune of ~30,000 crore, which includes bank exposure. There are about 15 banks in the consortium.

A resolution will now be worked out within the framework of the IBC. This is the second instance of insolvency proceeding­s against a financial services provider after DHFL, which was recently acquired by Piramal Enterprise­s.

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