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Kolkata's NCLT bench pulls up Binani Cement's resolution professional

Dev Chatterjee/Mumbai 14 Mar 18 | 06:00 AM

The Kolkata Bench of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on Tuesday asked Vijaykumar Iyer, a resolution professional of Binani Cement, to appear in person in the tribunal in its next hearing to answer questions on the bidding process followed in the firm’s debt resolution.

The NCLT was hearing a petition filed by the Aditya Birla group’s UltraTech against the resolution professional and Deloitte for rejecting its bid for Binani Cement. In its petition, UltraTech had alleged the resolution professional did not follow a transparent method in the bidding and did not give any details on what grounds its bid was not allowed. 

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Last week, Ultratech increased its bid by Rs 7 billion to Rs 69 billion but there was no response from the resolution professional.  UltraTech offered to pay 100 per cent of secured lenders and unsecured lenders debt. “The NCLT hauled up the resolution professional for not being transparent and not following the process. The tribunal asked the resolution professional to appear in person," a source said.

A Deloitte spokesperson had earlier declined to comment on the issue citing client confidentiality. A Dalmia Bharat spokesperson said the company was not commenting on Binani Cement acquisition.

The resolution professional and the Committee of Creditors had selected Dalmia Bharat Cement’s Rs 63 billion offer, which had offered to repay all secured lenders but only one unsecured lender – IDBI Bank. This was because IDBI Bank had a say at the CoC table while none of the insecured creditors of Binani Cement had any voting power. The Dalmia Bharat offer “squeezed out" the rest of the non-financial bidders, a source said.

Interestingly, the promoter of Binani Cement, Binani Industries has already challenged the resolution professional in the same Tribunal saying the resolution professional has “personal interest" in undervaluing Binani Cement and then selling it to a preferred bidder. According to Binani Industries, the value of Binani Cement is Rs 173 billion.  

Industry sources said the haste showed by the CoC and the RP in preferring a particular party needs to be investigated and all the details of how the weightage was assigned should be made public.  “This process is flawed and non-transparent. The entire process from day one needs to be probed on what basis they dropped JSW offer, then call for bids again and then ignoring offer from a credit worthy company," said a source close to the development.

Interestingly, in the first round of bids for Binani Cement, JSW Cement had emerged as the highest bidder.  But its offer was rejected and another round of bids was called in. No details were given to the bidders on the process followed. 

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