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IL&FS' car sale shows cash-strapped group never compromised on luxury

Between 2017-2018, group companies registered nine premium cars including BMWs and Mercedes-Benz models

Jash Kriplani  |  Mumbai 

IL&FS Mumbai
Executives of the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) group drove in luxury class till recently if the registration dates of these cars are an indication. 

Of the 36 premium luxury cars the group is trying to sell, nine were registered in 2017 and 2018. As recently as June 2018, the group registered BMW X1 S DRIVE 20 D. The premium SUV, which could cost around Rs 3.8 million, was registered in the name of IL&FS Rail. 

The premium collection of the group includes Mercedes Benz GLS — an S-Class SUV — which costs anywhere between Rs 8.2 million and Rs 15.6 million, depending upon the variant. The car was registered in July 2017 with IL&FS Transportation Networks as its owner. The group is now looking to off-load this priced possession with the base price pegged at Rs 5.4 million. 

As these cars were being bought, the group’s financial health continued to deteriorate under a ballooning debt burden. Between FY17 and FY18, the group’s debt-pile rose from Rs 800 billion to Rs 910 billion. 

While how much of this debt was used for these luxurious preferences is uncertain, the government is probing how the cash flows were allocated within the group’s 301 subsidiaries. 

“IL&FS and IL&FS Financial Services kept raising funds on the basis of bogus and fictitious but good credit ratings and this short-term loans were passed to subsidiaries, joint ventures and special purpose vehicles to help service their debts,” Sanjay Shorey, joint legal director in the ministry of corporate affairs, reportedly said at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) as the government sought attachment of properties of additional directors of IL&FS. 

The impressive line-up of cars that are being put on sale includes six BMWs, four Mercedes-Benz, two Jaguars, one Lexus and a Landrover. The remaining cars are from manufacturers such as Skoda, Audi, Toyota, Honda and Volvo. 

Those looking to pick up the luxury offerings of the IL&FS would have to shell out anywhere between Rs 259,000 and Rs 5.4 million — the broad range of base prices the IL&FS has quoted. The group could at least fetch Rs 88 million from this sale if buyers match the base prices at which the bidding can start. 

According to the sources, the group has put 20 of its cars for inspection near its BKC office in Mumbai, while the remaining will be at Gurugram. 

The new board of IL&FS — chaired by Uday Kotak — is looking at cost-cutting measures to improve the liquidity situation of the group. Besides monetising some of the group’s operating assets, the board is also looking at ways it can cut its wage bill and bring down the manpower. 

The group has also lined up sale of fitness equipment, furniture and white goods under its ownership. The documents reviewed by Business Standard show that the group is selling items from Turner Heights in Bandra West, Jasmine Apartments in Bandra East and a flat in New Town, Kolkata. 

The list of items being sold includes two treadmills. The office equipment and furniture include chairs, safes, sofa set, bed and tables. The white-goods include refrigerators, aquaguards, LED and LCD television, microwave, air-conditioners and washing machines. 

In all, there are 61 such items being put on sale. The total value that the group is seeking from these sales could not be ascertained. 

The government in October appointed the new board to check the contagion risk from the IL&FS default. Most of the financial intermediaries such as banks, insurers and mutual funds have direct or indirect exposure to the troubled group. 

First Published: Thu, December 13 2018. 16:13 IST