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The State Bank of India’s (SBI’s) offer in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to settle Uttam Galva Steels’ debt with the current promoters, the Miglani family by taking a 50 per cent haircut has led to similar settlement offers from other companies facing action under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). Lawyers of several stressed companies said they planned to move the NCLT to make similar offers. Most of them had offered to settle accounts even before these were sent to the NCLT. But these offers were not accepted by the SBI and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last year. There are at present about 500 cases pending in NCLT Benches across the country. Since June last year, the RBI has prepared a list of 40 high debt companies which were referred by banks to the NCLT for debt resolution. “The SBI offer is good news for all companies as it shows that banks are willing to settle the matter instead of prolonging the crisis. There have been almost 50 per cent job losses in these companies and production has come down substantially,” said a Mumbai-based lawyer. One of the top companies battling it out in the NCLT over debt resolution is the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Naval and Engineering. It is facing proceedings in Ahmedabad, after IFCI moved the tribunal in November last year.
But other banks including SBI are willing to settle this case. Similarly, Videocon Industries has moved the Bombay High Court against SBI and the RBI for referring it to the NCLT. Videocon has also offered to repay all loans by selling its Brazilian assets. Essar Steel was the first company to move the court against the RBI after it was referred to the NCLT in June last year. Essar Steel’s debt resolution is pending with the NCLT. “There were many companies whose restructuring proposals were approved but not implemented and these were referred to the NCLT. What was the logic of not implementing the approved proposal? Others companies were not sent to the NCLT despite being on the NPA list,” said the CEO of a company with debt in stress, asking not to be named. Another good news for the stressed assets has come from the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Court has ruled in favour of Arnak Aluminium after the company moved against SBI, the RBI and the Union government for referring it to the NCLT in January. In an order on March 7, the court said the company’s matter needed closer examination as it had already paid Rs 1.25 billion as one-time settlement. It had to pay the second tranche of Rs 2.75 billion by March 2018. The court said if Anrak Aluminium failed to pay the second tranche by March end then its order would not benefit the petitioner and would be automatically rescinded. Anrak Aluminium was in the second list of 28 companies prepared by the RBI. Bidders, current promoters and lenders said the vague rules of the IBC and the amendments later had made the exercise highly litigious. “Most of the cases will be finally decided by the Supreme Court as neither the lenders nor the companies are satisfied with lower court orders,” said a lender.