RCAP resolution plan hits roadblock as bidders upset over another auction plan

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 26-03-2023 21:26 IST | Created: 26-03-2023 21:26 IST
RCAP resolution plan hits roadblock as bidders upset over another auction plan

The plan of debt-ridden Reliance Capital's lenders to conduct a second round of auction has hit a roadblock, as bidders are apparently not inclined to another round under the insolvency resolution process, according to sources.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) has listed the matter regarding the second auction for hearing in August.

The apex court on March 20, 2023, admitted Torrent Investments' -- the highest bidder with Rs 8,640 crore resolution plan -- appeal against the lenders' decision to hold another round of auction.

However, the court refused to stay the second round of the auction.

The insolvency process of Reliance Capital (RCAP) has been going on for more than 450 days, which is much longer than the statutory time limit of 330 days.

According to the sources, Torrent has recently conveyed to the lenders that it is not willing to participate in the second round of auction.

The other bidder -- IndusInd International Holdings Ltd (IIHL) of Hinduja Group -- has also told the lenders that it wants to withdraw its revised bid of Rs 9,000 crore, which it had made after the auction process, and retain the old offer of Rs 8,110 crore in the first round of auction, they added.

This has upset the Committee of Creditors (CoC) plan to conduct a second round of auction with a base price of Rs 9,500 crore to maximise the recovery from the RCAP resolution process.

In a related development, the sources said, a consortium of Cosmea Financial and Piramal, who had submitted binding bids for Reliance Capital in November, has written to the administrator, seeking a refund of their earnest money deposit (EMD) of Rs 75 crore each, as both the companies do not wish to further participate in the ongoing resolution process.

While the CoC can go ahead with the extended challenge mechanism, permitting lenders to go ahead with a second round of auction, the outcome of the auction will be subject to the final decision of the Supreme Court.

Hence, the sources said, a decision to negotiate or conduct the Swiss Challenge or Challenge Mechanism will not be against SC order at this stage. The SC has permitted the lenders to go-ahead with further action as per the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) order, sources said.

The NCLAT order dated March 2, 2023, provides an option of auction or negotiation to lenders, which will be subject to its final order of the SC. With these latest developments, the sources said, Reliance Capital is staring at liquidation if the lenders and bidders fail to reach a workable solution to end the stalemate.

As per the estimates, lenders would fetch Rs 13,000 crore if they go for liquidation.

According to bankers involved in the process, Torrent, last week, suggested conducting a Swiss Challenge auction with their earlier bid of Rs 8,640 crore as the threshold. If lenders agree to this, Torrent will have the first right to match any counteroffer from IIHL of Hinduja Group, one of the sources said.

The challenge mechanism may be considered a flawed one as serious bidders will be apprehensive of participating in such open-ended processes, the sources said, adding that since the Supreme Court will be examining the interpretation of Regulation 39 (1A) for the first time, the decision will have far-reaching implications on the future of IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code).

The dispute around RCAP's bidding arose when Hindujas offered to pay Rs 9,000 crore in upfront cash to the lenders, a day after the first round of auction concluded on December 21.

After this, lenders decided to go for one more round of auction to maximise their recovery from the RCAP assets.

Torrent, which made a bid of Rs 8,640 crore in the first auction, termed IIHL's post-auction revised bid of Rs 9,000 crore as invalid and challenged Hindujas' revised bid and the second round of auction in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

Torrent approached the Supreme Court against the NCLAT's order. The apex court admitted Torrent's appeal and issued notice but did not grant the requested interim relief to stay the tribunal's order. However, the sources said, any further auction or negotiation by the lenders will be subject to the SC's final decision on Torrent's appeal.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on November 29, 2021, superseded the board of Reliance Capital in view of payment defaults and serious governance issues.

The RBI appointed Nageswara Rao Y as the administrator in relation to the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) of the firm.

Reliance Capital is the third large non-banking financial company (NBFC) against which the central bank has initiated bankruptcy proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

The other two were Srei Group NBFC and Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL).

The central bank subsequently filed an application for initiation of CIRP against the company at the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal.

In February last year, the RBI-appointed administrator invited expressions of interest for the sale of Reliance Capital.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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