28 March 2019: Ahead of the debt resolution process of troubled infra lender Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), a number of well-known companies across the world are trying to get their voices heard in the insolvency proceedings.
These include British Airways and the Indian subsidiary of Philips, according to media reports. Both companies, along with nearly a hundred others, have reportedly filed petitions in the National Companies Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) wishing to be recognised as financial creditors of IL&FS.
Their contention is that their provident funds had invested in bonds and debt instruments issued by the cash-strapped infrastructure lender, and therefore, they stand to benefit from participation in the resolution process as a stakeholder.
IL&FS had around ₹940 billion in outstanding loans at the end of 2017-18, ₹573 billion is in the form of loans to Indian banks – most of which are state-run. Around ₹150-200 billion has come from the provident funds of companies like BA and Philips India.
The infrastructure lender, which invests in government projects like highways, ports, bridges and dams, reached its current state of high debt and illiquidity owing to a lack of regulatory oversight and inadequate due diligence before spending on projects.
As the prospects for the infrastructure and power sector declined following the financial crisis of 2008-0, the company’s projects were either stalled or faced huge cost overruns. Hence, the returns for IL&FS’s subsidiaries dried up and its debts continued increasing.
To make matters worse, the company’s directors allegedly laundered funds and sanctioned investments in projects without guarantees.
In a bid to pay off its debts and avoid bankruptcy, the company has been selling of a range of assets, including its renewable energy business and financial services unit. The sales are part of a resolution plan that a government-appointed committee, led by Uday Kotak, submitted to the NCLT, a special insolvency court, on 31 October.