Thursday, May 20, 2021

An Interesting One Time Settlement(OTS) with IDBI Bank

There are some common practices in banking and finance. One such practice is, if you borrow money from a bank then you need to pay it back with interest. If you fail to pay, then bank will take appropriate actions to recover the money. Well, this is for common people. In the case of agriculture loans; based on government directives banks may write off the loans fully or partially. 

There are a separate set of rules for corporate sector called 'Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016'. This allows creditors to recover the money in case of default using insolvency proceedings. Under IBC, creditors may not get the whole amount. This however provides a meaningful resolution to the problem. IBC doesn't allow defaulting promotors to acquire the company under insolvency proceedings and there is a good reason for that.

What happened in this specific case is, lenders led by IDBI bank (49% owned by LIC) initiated bankruptcy proceedings against Siva Industries in 2019 for an amount in the tune of 5,000 crores. International Asset Reconstruction Company holds - 22%, IDBI Bank - 17%,  Union Bank of India (UBI) - 12% of the admitted debt. Other lenders are LIC, SBI, Yes Bank, and Bank of India. Well, company's liquidation value seems to be well below 5000 crores. 

Banks later agreed to a one-time settlement (OTS) offer from Siva Industries’s promoters (part of Aircel founder C Sivasankaran’s group). Under this settlement, banks will get 10% of their money. IDBI says, this amount is better than that of the company's liquidation value and agreed to a one-time settlement. By the way, OTS is not against the law. Even if insolvency proceedings don't allow defaulting promoters to acquire their company; bankers can still do a one-time settlement with lenders if enough of them agree. Under this Siva group will get their company back and can come out of the liquidation process. All are happy, right? 

Well no. Banks may get more money compared to the liquidation process; but they forget the fact that it is the same promoter who actually owes that much to them. Its like your company take a loan of 5000 crores from a bank, company default on payments, the bank took over the company, after some time you pay 500 crores (10%) to the bank and take control of your company. This can act as a template for any promotor to come out of insolvency proceedings in the future. If one bank can accept it and one promoter can get their company bank then what stops others from trying? After all, it's not against the existing law!!! 

The sole loser here is the Indian banking system, which losses money on deal after deal. Their NPA rates are going to create new records. Regulators should intervene and make sure to close all the loopholes in the law. OTS should not end up as an easy way for promotors to default, don't pay, and still retain the ownership of the company.  


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