Banks might opt for OTS with defaulting firms

Banks apparently feel that it’s better to take haircuts of 50-60% rather than face uncertainty in courts.

Debt written on a computer keyboard
Banks might clinch one-time settlements (OTS) with defaulting companies — on the RBI’s second list of defaulting firms — and take haircuts of 50-60% rather than face uncertainty in the courts. As there haven’t been any bids for several companies on the list and the December 31 deadline is drawing near, the chances of them being liquidated are high, bankers explained.
In August, the RBI had sent lenders a second list of 28 stressed assets to be referred to the NCLT by December 31. The central bank allowed banks to make “adequate” provisions for such accounts by March 2018. The new list includes Videocon Industries (gross debt of Rs 47,554 crore), IVRCL (Rs 3,579 crore), Uttam Galva Steels (Rs 5,041 crore), Soma Enterprises (Rs 1,895 crore) and Asian Colour Coated Ispat (Rs 3,019 crore). The RBI had asked banks to try and come up with workable solutions for the stressed exposures by December 13.
Bankers said that less than a fourth of the firms on the second list have attracted resolution plans and even fewer have submitted a viable debt restructuring proposal.  Consequently, lenders were working on such settlements with promoters to avoid taking their companies to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
“They feel it is better to take a hit and move on rather than provide large sums in their books,” a banker explained. He added that the possibility of adverse outcomes from the NCLT was prompting to opt for settlements even if the haircuts were large.
Banks have also put on sale some mid-sized companies, and offered these to asset reconstruction companies (ARCs). To enable OTS, promoters have been asked to pay up a portion of their loans before December 13, as that would help prevent insolvency proceedings. Should a borrower not be able to bring in the required sum within the deadline, he would have the option of signing an undertaking promising to arrange the money within six months.
Bankers say that the possibility of an unfavourable ruling by NCLT has made many lenders apprehensive of approaching the court. In the case of Synergies Dooray Automotive, the Hyderabad NCLT approved a debt resolution plan that envisages a 94% haircut for its lenders. Challenging the order, Edelweiss ARC had approached the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal.
SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, State Bank has said that while some haircut was inevitable, it should not be very steep. Meanwhile, banks have approached ARCs to sell the troubled loans but have sought a larger portion of cash and smaller portion as security receipts than currently mandated.
“Several companies on the second list have not yet been able to attract bidders. So, even if we go to the NCLT, we will end up liquidating the asset at less than the true value,” a banker said. He added that any settlement based on the liquidation value would entail steeper haircuts than the OTS scheme or ARC sales.
Edelweiss ARC Chairman Siby Anthony believes that sales of distressed firms to ARCs may be an effective way out for banks. “Wherever banks feel there will not be competitive bidding from external sources, reference to the NCLT may prove costly,” Antony said. 
Source: Financial Express

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