Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani is in talks with Blackstone and a US-based fund to sell or lease out his headquarters in Santacruz, Mumbai, in a deal that may be worth upwards of Rs 1,500 crore, the Economic Times reported on Monday. However, the deal may be marred by a legal tangle that the property is involved in, the report added.
Several companies of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) are in legal crosshairs for not paying back debt. As of March 2018, the group’s consolidated debt stood at Rs 1.72 trillion. The figures as of March 2019 are not available as group companies like Reliance Infrastructure are yet to declare results for Q4FY19, as reported earlier by Business Standard.
Last month, Anil Ambani said his group has paid Rs 35,000 crore in the 14 months from April 1, 2018 till May 31 this year to lenders. These payments comprise principal repayments of Rs 24,800 crore and interest payments of Rs 10,600 crore. The group raised funds by selling assets, he said.
Ambani said this amount included debt servicing payments by Reliance Capital, Reliance Power and Reliance Infrastructure, and their respective affiliates. "These payments have been made in the face of insurmountable odds and the most challenging financial environment witnessed in the country in decades,” Ambani said in a conference call.
Ambani said in the last 14 months lenders from all categories - whether banks, mutual funds, insurance companies, provident funds or NBFCs - have not provided any net additional liquidity or debt to any entity of the Reliance Group. “To compound matters, the regulatory bodies and courts have not passed any final adjudication orders on claims aggregating to over Rs 30,000 crore that are due for more than 5 - 10 years to various Group companies, especially Reliance Infrastructure Ltd and Reliance Power Ltd, and their affiliates,” he said. The final decisions have only been inordinately and repeatedly delayed for one reason or the other, Ambani added.
Analysts, however, remain skeptical. “One should not get carried away with these statements of debt reduction. Two group companies — RNaval and RPower — having reported FY19 numbers have not shown any debt reduction and have posted total loss of Rs 13,000 crore, with both having debt of over Rs 45,000 crore," SP Tulsian, chief executive officer (CEO) for sptulsian.com told Business Standard earlier.
Part of the asset monetisation that the group undertook in the last 14 months includes sale of its Mumbai power distribution business to Adani Electricity for Rs 12,700 crore in August 2018, sale of a road asset to Cube Highways for Rs 3,600 crore and a large part of its radio business to Music Broadcast for Rs 1,050 crore. The group’s commercial and home finance business also securitised its assets (loans given out) for Rs 8,000 crore.