With the signing of a $12.9-billion deal to sell their Gujarat-based refinery to Rosneft, the Ruias claimed to have completed Corporate India’s biggest debt deleveraging plan which would provide them extra fire power in their steel, ports, and power businesses.
“The worst is now behind us. Our main plans for consolidating businesses, deleveraging debt and asset sale are now over. This was a long drawn process. Our immediate priority is to submit a resolution plan for the steel company, which is operating at a healthy 80 per cent capacity,” Prashant Ruia, director, Essar group, said in an interview here on Tuesday. There was no plan to enter any new business, he added.
Ruia said Essar was India’s second-biggest private port operator after Adani and had plans to increase capacity from 92 mmtpa to 190 mmtpa. The group’s power capacity would also be scaled up from 3,830 mw to 5,090 mw in India and Canada, he said. “We are not selling any more group assets.
We will infuse additional equity into our steel business," he added.
Ruia said with the Rosneft deal, the group had reduced its debt burden by half, both in India and at the holding company level. “The group’s debt will be down by Rs 70,000 crore. With this transaction, we have returned Rs 36,000 crore in cash to banks — which is a record,” Ruia said. The group repaid $5 billion (Rs 32,500 crore) to banks, including VTB Bank, Stanchart, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank, which had lent money to its holding company. Essar will continue to have consolidated revenues of $15 billion with an asset base of $17 billion.
Ruia said the minority shareholders of Essar Oil would receive an additional Rs 880 crore, or Rs 75.5 more per share, apart from the price of Rs 262.80 a share paid at the time of delisting a few years ago. The company’s shareholders had received Rs 338.28 per share from Rosneft for the refinery transaction. “This is another first, and shows our commitment to our minority shareholders,” Ruia said. The total payout to Essar Oil’s shareholders will rise from Rs 3,064 crore to Rs 3,944 crore.
Ruia said the group’s power business, which had debts of less than Rs 4,000 crore, was doing fine and its Gujarat-based plant, which imported coal from Indonesia, was awaiting clarity on policy from the government.