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Pressure on Haldia Petro to pay up

Calcutta, July 26: The banks and financial institutions (FIs) today pressed Haldia Petrochemicals Limited to pay up interest before the debt restructuring exercise begins in a few weeks’ time.

Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), the consortium leader, has already sent a specimen debt restructuring agreement copy to the HPL promoters for their perusal.

The banks and FIs today met the HPL management to review the overall operational and financial performance of the company so that they could form their views about the company before going to the corporate debt restructuring cell.

“Interest has to be paid first,” said a senior banker after coming out from the one-and-a-half hour meeting.

The company today explained its stand on interest payment to the banks and FIs.

“According to the interim restructuring package okayed by IDBI, the company has to clear interest till June 30, 2002. HPL has cleared interest till March 31, 2002,” a senior official of HPL said.

“The company, in general, makes interest payment twice in a year — once on March 31 and the other on September 30. Now that IDBI has asked us to clear interest till June 30, 2002 we have written to them to find a way out. There are many lenders whom we pay on September 30. Once IDBI directs us what to do we will clear the interest,” the official added.

“We have explained the company’s performance to the banks and Fis. We feel that the financial problem of the company will come to an end shortly.”

The IDBI official present at the meeting said, “We will express our views at the CDR.”

The HPL management will also request that the debt restructuring exercise be restricted within Rs 468 crore. According to the package submitted to the banks and FIs, the promoters have agreed to chip in Rs 468 crore.

Out of this Rs 468 crore, Rs 200 crore will come from Gail and the remaining Rs 268 crore will come from Purnendu Chatterjee’s The Chatterjee Group (TCG). Gail has decided to pick up a 10 per cent stake in HPL.

Sources said that the TCG chief is also open to the idea of bringing in Rs 107 crore which is lying in an escrow account and has not yet been converted into equity.

The present equity of the Rs 5,170-crore HPL is Rs 1,153 crore. The West Bengal government has given Rs 540 crore towards equity while Rs 433 crore and Rs 180 crore have come from TCG and the Tatas respectively.

The company, which controls 63 per cent of the polymer market in the eastern region, has started value-added exports.

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