In a first, the Kolkata bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has allowed the promoters of Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd, a delinquent company that owes around Rs4,600 crore, to draw up a new scheme to repay creditors after the official liquidator failed to find a taker.
The bench has directed Sumit Binani, the official liquidator, to convene a meeting of lenders on 16 July. Arun Kumar Jagatramka, chairman and managing director of the metallurgical coke maker, will have to prepare a scheme for repayment of debts a month before the meeting, according to Moti Sagar Tiwari, Jagatramka’s lawyer.
If he gets the support of 75% of the company’s creditors, Jagatramka could ask the bench to stall the ongoing liquidation process, added Tiwari. Before the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) came into force, several companies ordered to be liquidated were later allowed to settle their dues, said Ratnanko Banerji, Jagatramka’s legal counsel.
Under the new code, promoters of delinquent companies are barred from submitting resolution plans. However, in the case of Gujarat NRE Coke, the resolution professional could not find a buyer for the assets, following which the company was ordered to be liquidated but as a going concern, or as an operating enterprise, so that some 1,200 jobs were not lost.
However, the official liquidator again failed to find a taker. Binani, who acted as the resolution professional and later as the liquidator of Gujarat NRE Coke, did not oppose Jagatramka’s plea. The company had voluntarily moved NCLT last year, seeking insolvency resolution and thus blocking lenders from taking over the assets.
Through a later amendment of the bankruptcy code, the government barred promoters of delinquent companies from bidding for assets.
Jagatramka on Tuesday said he was planning to repay the creditors from the cash flows of Gujarat NRE Coke. Though he declined to divulge details, he said the scheme he has in mind will address all creditors. His lawyers had submitted at the bench that the company was lately making operating profits. But it is not immediately clear if the operating surplus is enough to repay the outstanding debts.
In an earlier interview with , Jagatramka had said the company has been struggling since November 2013. By then, it was almost impossible to repay bank loans in full, he had said. However, if the government had immediately imposed an anti-dumping duty on coke coming from China, Gujarat NRE Coke could have sold shares in the market and raised Rs1,000 crore to repay its debts, Jagatramka had said.
Source: Livemint, May 15, 2018