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Lenders may settle Uttam Galva dues, move likely to help ArcelorMittal

Ishita Ayan Dutt/Kolkata 14 Mar 18 | 06:03 AM

ArcelorMittal held a 29.05 per cent stake in Uttam Galva Steels

Lenders are exploring the possibility of settlement of dues of Uttam Galva Steels, a move that could ease the way for ArcelorMittal’s bid for Essar Steel. ArcelorMittal was an early investor in Uttam Galva Steels. 

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A counsel for State Bank of India, the lead lender to Uttam Galva Steels, on Tuesday said before the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) that lenders were exploring the possibility of a settlement with the company. In case a settlement was reached, the insolvency proceedings might not be required. But the settlement would have to be reached by April 10. 

Uttam Galva Steels Promoter Ankit Miglani declined to comment on the development. ArcelorMittal also did not comment. 

Uttam Galva Steels had become an issue for ArcelorMittal's bid for stressed assets when the government amended the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and introduced Section 29A. It prevented promoters of companies with non-performing assets (NPAs) for more than a year from submitting resolution plans, if they did not pay the overdue amount with interest. 

ArcelorMittal held a 29.05 per cent stake in Uttam Galva Steels. The L N Mittal-led company, however, was a passive investor with no board representation or management control. On February 7, prior to the submission of the Essar Steel bid, ArcelorMittal Netherlands BV transferred its entire shareholding in Uttam Galva to Sainath Trading Company for Rs 1 a share. But questions were still raised about ArcelorMittal’s promoter status at the time of Uttam Galva Steels turning into an NPA.

State Bank of India (SBI) had already moved a petition for beginning insolvency proceedings against Uttam Galva Steels, but it had not been admitted by the tribunal, sources close to the development said. The amount, mechanism and a detailed framework would be worked out, but first the process of insolvency proceedings had to be halted. The discussions were taking place at the highest level, sources added. 

Uttam Galva Steel's debt stood at Rs 62 billion at the end of March 2017. Though it was not clear how much would had to be paid to make the account standard, a one-time settlement of Rs 30 billion would fetch the lender more than the average realisation from an NCLT asset. 

If Uttam Galva Steels became a standard account then the questions around it would die down. L N Mittal, however, had a personal holding in KazStroyServices (KSS) of Kazakhstan, an oil infrastructure provider company, in his personal capacity. KSS, in turn, holds a 100 per cent stake in KSS Petron, which turned into an NPA in 2015. But Mittal sold his shares in KSS too before submission of the Essar Steel bid. But it is not clear whether some discussion around KSS Petron, which is also undergoing insolvency proceedings, is possible. 

Numetal, the other bidder for Essar Steel, is also facing problems. Rewant Ruia, son of Ravi Ruia, has an indirect interest in the company. Ravi Ruia is the co-founder of Essar Steel, which has defaulted on bank loans, leading to the bankruptcy proceedings against the company. 

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