The strategic debt restructuring scheme introduced by the Reserve Bank is set to change the management of companies that have failed to repay bank loans. In a 10-part series, Business Standard looks at what ails these companies and why. The second part explains how Monnet Ispat got caught in the debt trap
Debt-laden Monnet Ispat & Energy, which is treading the strategic debt restructuring (SDR) route, will eventually see new promoters as lenders to the company looking to put the steel producer in the recovery mode.
“I am not happy to give control of this company to someone else. It has taken me 20 years to bring Monnet to the size it is. But, what option do I have now?” said Sandeep Jajodia, founder and chairman of Monnet Ispat.
In November last year, lenders decided to take control after Monnet Ispat failed to service its liabilities. Its consolidated net debt stood at a massive Rs 12,000 crore as on March 31, 2015 with 21 per cent of the loans taken for its power business and the rest for steel.
The financial metrics of the company have deteriorated over the years. The firm’s debt-equity ratio has zoomed to 4.71 in 2014-15 from a healthy 1.25 in 2010-11. Monnet manufactures sponge iron and other steel products at Raipur and Raigarh in Chhattisgarh.
Things were not so bad for Monnet until October 2014, when the company was being rated ‘adequately safe’ by ratings agencies. However, with steel prices tumbling 45-50 per cent in the past one-and-a-half years, cheap imports eating into incremental domestic demand, and government policies changing gears, the company landed in the situation where it is now.
Later, according to the Supreme Court's decision, all coal mines were de-allocated and companies not only starved for coal, but also did not know what to do with the investments made. The apex court directive resulted in Jajodia losing all the five coal mines, hitting the business significantly. In the annual report for 2014-15, Jajodia told his shareholders the loss of its coal mines hit the business significantly. The company also ended up paying a penalty of Rs 250 crore apart from taking operational hit.
Owing to this, where on the one side Monnet found it difficult to pay its debt, banks also started getting cautious in lending as they were unable to see profitability in businesses. Reacting again to the grim business cycle, the banking system started finding ways to penalise entities that took them to report higher non-performing assets.
“The industry has failed to meet expectation as the steel cycle extended its downturn, taking the average profitability estimates made by companies for a complete toss. Based on certain assumptions, companies had taken debt and banks had lent. But, nothing has worked according to estimates,” said Giriraj Daga, portfolio manager at SKS Capital & Research.
Now both Monnet Ispat and the company’s lenders are looking to make their businesses come back on feet via the SDR route. This, however, would compel both to lose out on something. While Monnet’s promoters might lose control of the company, lenders would have to settle down with a hair-cut.
“Earlier, banks were not ready with the idea of taking the hair-cut but slowly, we (banks) are realising that there is no much option,” said one of the lenders to Monnet Ispat. “In order to make the business viable, it is important that both the banks and the company take some hit.”
Whether the new investor will be able to turn the tide for Monnet Ispat in the current environment is anybody’s guess.
“All that we can say is that we (lenders) are not going to be pessimistic,” said the lender cited above. “If things don’t pick up, there will be some correction in the industry. But, as lenders, we have to hand-hold for sometime till things look fine,” he said.
Monnet Ispat Financials
|Consolidated figures (in Rs Crore)|
|FY||Total Debt||Networth||Net Sales||PBIDT||PAT|
|(Source Capitaline; Compiled by BS Research Bureau)|