31 May 2019: The bankruptcy court appointed interim resolution professionals (IRPs) of Reliance Communications (RCom) and two of its subsidiaries have admitted claims of Rs 66,000 crore, more than three fourths of those filed, against the companies, people in the know said.
Bankruptcy proceedings of RCom, Reliance Telecom and Reliance Infratel formally kicked off on Thursday, with a meeting of the banks that have lent money to them to lay out the timelines for the process and to appoint new resolution professionals.
Banks and other financial institutions have filed total claims of around Rs 85,000 crore against the Anil Ambani-promoted telecom company and its units, the people said.
The lenders do not own any equity shares in RCom, though an initial plan had contemplated them converting part of their debt into a controlling stake. The promoters own 22% of the company as per latest stock exchange filings. The rest is held by public shareholders.
While claims worth Rs 49,000 crore have been filed against RCom that houses spectrum and some parts of the now-defunct mobile telephony business, the second-largest share of claims at Rs 24,000 crore was against Reliance Telecom, which held the GSM operations. Banks have filed claims worth Rs 12,000 crore against Reliance Infratel, the company that houses the telecom tower business of the group.
A large number of claims are still under verification and almost 90% of those against the parent company have been admitted “provisionally”, a person in the know said, implying that those were still subject to legal challenges by the IRPs if not found to be accurate.
Representatives of 15 banks met to discuss the way forward for the bankruptcy process where IRPs from advisory firm RBSA briefed the creditors on the claim processing status.
RBSA did not respond to emailed queries from ET till press time Thursday.
RBSA’s Pardeep Sethi is the IRP for RCom, while its Manish Kaneria and Mitali Shah are managing the bankruptcy proceedings for Reliance Infratel and Reliance Telecom, respectively.
State Bank of India, which has the largest exposure to RCom, has proposed to replace RBSA with Deloitte as the resolution professional, ET had reported in its edition on May 7.
The lenders decided to subject the proposal on Deloitte to an electronic vote, the results of which are likely to be disclosed early next week.
“It is a policy of the bank not to comment upon individual accounts and its treatment,” an SBI spokesperson said in response to ET’s queries.
RCom has had to go down the bankruptcy route after several failed attempts at restructuring the company’s debt and selling assets such as its telecom towers and spectrum.
The company announced through a stock exchange notification on February 4 that it would subject itself to insolvency proceedings at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), as it was unable to pay its debt.
Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson had first dragged RCom to NCLT in May last year, on the grounds that the company had not paid Rs 550 crore of dues for equipment supplied to it. RCom initially resisted the insolvency proceedings, but was forced to pay under directions of the Supreme Court.
RCom stopped wireless telephony services to customers in late 2017 and said it would only focus on B2B offerings to reduce costs.