The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gail links Haldia entry to loan concessions

Calcutta, Dec. 9: Gail India has asked Haldia Petrochem’s lenders to reduce interest on its debts to 11 per cent and extend the moratorium as a pre-condition for investing in Bengal’s showcase venture.

Haldia Petrochem (HPL) sources said that Gail has asked IDBI to give it the same terms offered to Indian Oil Corporation when it had evinced interest in investing in HPL. IDBI is the leader of the lenders’ consortium of HPL.

“As an equity partner Gail wants the consortium leader to reduce the interest rate to 11 per cent and extend the moratorium,” sources said.

Gail chairman Proshanto Banerjee discussed the issue with HPL chairman Tarun Das on Friday. “It has been decided that the Gail finance director will discuss the matter with IDBI this week,” sources said.

When contacted, IDBI officials said from Mumbai, “Gail India wants some relaxation regarding debt restructuring. We are evaluating their proposal.”

The bankers too are anxiously waiting for IDBI’s decision on the issue. Madhukar, chairman and managing director of United Bank of India, said, “We are also waiting for IDBI’s decision on the debt restructuring issue.”

But a fresh look at the debt restructuring proposal may delay the revival of the company which is saddled with a debt burden of Rs 4,200 crore. “We are trying to give a final shape to the debt restructuring within December 31,” HPL officials said.

HPL missed on interest payout for three successive quarters beginning October 2001 till June 2002, aggregating over Rs 340 crore. Going by the Reserve Bank’s rulebook, HPL’s loans should have the non-performing asset tag attached by now.

However, IDBI issued a comfort letter last August stating that HPL promoters bring in Rs 700 crore capital – Rs 500 crore by November 30 and another Rs 200 crore by February 28, 2003.

With Gail delaying its investment in HPL the promoters of the company have initiated steps to mop up Rs 300 crore so that the restructuring process is not derailed.

The company has appointed Lazard Capital as lead manager to structure a Rs 300-crore securitisation deal against its swap production-cum-marketing deal with Gail India.

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