* Options include outright sale of group or its subsidiaries
* New board expects to implement resolution in six-nine months
* Company tribunal to hear update on plan Dec. 3
By Promit Mukherjee
MUMBAI, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The new board of India’s Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) submitted a plan to revive the debt-laden firm to a company law tribunal on Wednesday, paving the way to a potential resolution of the group’s future.
The Indian government this month took control of IL&FS, a major infrastructure financing and development company, after it defaulted on some of its debt, triggering fears of contagion across India’s financial system.
“It is a dream and hope blueprint for revival,” Sanjay Shorey, Director for Legal Prosecution in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), told the tribunal.
The MCA is representing the government and the new board at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
“A universe of options are to be explored. There is no single strategy for revival,” Shorey said.
He said the new board of IL&FS was looking at three strategies: an outright sale of the entire IL&FS group, sales of its subsidiaries or assets.
The company later said in a statement after the tribunal hearing that the options could broadly involve significant capital infusion, divestments and debt restructuring at ILFS group, its subsidiaries and asset sales.
The IL&FS defaults have triggered sharp falls in Indian stock and debt markets amid fears of risk in the rest of the country’s financial sector.
Earlier in the day, both Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services and IL&FS Transportation Networks said they were unable to service their non-covertible debenture interest payments due on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31, respectively, due to insufficient funds.
The string of defaults by IL&FS led to a series of credit rating downgrades on the company to junk.
Shorey said the officials appointed by the new board have found discrepancies on how the previous board and management had conducted its business.
A preliminary analysis of the financial statements of IL&FS noted that outstanding loans of the company were in excess of the permissible limit set by India’s central bank, Shorey told the tribunal.
“The new board is unable to validate whether transparent process was used by the earlier board to monetise assets,” he added.
The NCLT told the MCA that the holding company will have to make all its 346 subsidiaries part of the resolution roadmap within 15 days.
The new board will follow due processes in the finalisation and implementation of the plans and expects to complete the process, in stages and parts, in the next six to nine months subject to market and economic conditions, IL&FS said.
The court will hear an update on the plans on Dec. 3. (Reporting by Promit Mukherjee, Writing by Swati Bhat; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)