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HPL to seek fresh funds

Calcutta, Nov. 22: The Bengal government is again looking for short-term funding to save Haldia Petrochemicals from closure as the stake sale to Indian Oil Corporation is stuck in a legal quagmire.

Partha Chatterjee, state industries minister and chairman of the company, will shortly convene a meeting of the lenders to seek a fresh dose of debt to keep the plant running. “We shall do whatever is required from going to the BIFR,” he said. The state had given a Rs 100-crore loan to HPL earlier this year to tide the company over the crisis.

The decision comes at a time HPL decided to “report” itself to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) after losing more than half of its peak net worth because of losses.

In an extraordinary general meeting today, HPL shareholders approved the move to report to the BIFR, on the basis of the last audited annual accounts of the company.

HPL’s net worth is close to be wiped out. Purnendu Chatterjee, the company’s private promoter, claimed the net worth had already turned negative.

“Our first objective should be to save the company from going to the BIFR. All of us should work on that. Other things (ownership battle/share transfer to IOC) can come later,” Purnendu Chatterjee, chairman of The Chatterjee Group, said after the EGM and the board meeting.

TCG, which owns 40.87 per cent of HPL, is staking claim to 15.5 crore shares that the Bengal government has promised to hand over to IOC along with another block of 52 crore shares for around Rs 1,700 crore. TCG has already spun a web of legal cases to stall the transfer.

Purnendu Chatterjee reiterated his offer to give Rs 500 crore to revive HPL if he was given management control.

Partha Chatterjee indicated that a fresh loan would be sought from lenders in case the share transfer to Indian Oil got delayed.

HPL’s fortune can turn if IOC takes over management and infuse fresh cash into the company.

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