The Telegraph
Thursday , January 3 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Promoter frowns on IOC role in HPL meet

Calcutta, Jan. 2: The Chatterjee Group has sought clarification on the presence of Indian Oil Corporation at the meeting called by the lead lenders of Haldia Petrochemicals (HPL) next Monday in Mumbai.

The private promoter of HPL has also questioned why the chairman of the company, Bengal industry minister Partha Chatterjee, was not invited to the meeting.

The meeting has six items on agenda, including infusion of funds by the existing promoters and status of stake sale by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.

Apart from the members of HPL’s corporate debt restructuring cell led by IDBI Bank, working capital consortium members led by the SBI, two promoters of HPL — WBIDC and TCG — and senior company officials have been called to the meeting along with IOC.

Sources said TCG was wary of the presence of IOC in the meeting as it was not a promoter of the company. However, with an 8.89 per cent stake, it is the third largest shareholder in HPL.

TCG had objected to the induction of IOC since 2004 and fought a seven-year legal battle with the WBIDC, culminating in a Supreme Court judgment in September 2011.

The earlier Left Front government had brought in IOC with the intention of giving up management control as it wanted to induct an integrated energy player to save a standalone petrochemical firm such as HPL from the cyclical nature of the business.

With HPL facing a possibility of going to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction following an unprecedented cash crunch and colossal losses, lenders are now trying to propose IOC as the suitable candidate to take control of HPL.

However, Bengal could be wary of a negotiated deal with IOC at this moment after deciding to sell WBIDC’s share through an auction.

“We have given a mandate to Deloitte. I will not talk about the matter. Let them come up with a suggestion,” industries minister Partha Chatterjee said today.

Asked about the Monday meeting, Chatterjee said he would not be going.