Kendra has suspended the sale of Pawan Hans (PHL) in view of the recent NCLT-Kolkata judgment against the Almas Global Opportunity Fund, the main partner of the consortium that won the bid for the state-run helicopter firm.
This is the second time in five months that the government has stopped investing in a state-owned company after announcing the name of the winning bidder. In January this year, the sale of Central Electronics (CEL) to Delhi-based Nandal Finance and Leasing was suspended following allegations of undervaluation of the firm by the employees’ union.
In an April 20 order, the Calcutta bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) said that Almas Global could not honor its winning bid for acquisition of Kolkata-based power system solutions company EMC because it failed to pay Rs 568 crore to creditors. . Noting that Almas Global Bankruptcy Resolution has adopted a “process for a journey”, the tribunal has called for action against bankruptcy and its management under section 74 (3) of the Bankruptcy Code. If the special court concerned takes disciplinary action in this case, the officials of the company may be sentenced to 1 to 5 years imprisonment in addition to fine.
“We will do a legal examination of the NCLT order before proceeding further (with the sale of Pawan Hans). The tender letter has not yet been issued to the bidder, “a senior government official told FE.
Analysts say dozens of companies are on the government’s list for strategic sales, with ongoing lawsuits involving them hindering the completion of the sales process.
According to the Government’s Strategic Investment Guidelines: “Disqualification of their promoters, promoters, groups and managers by any government authority on any chargesheet / by any court, for any offense committed by interested bidders or members of the consortium or their respective sisters or any of the offenses.” Will be. “
“The NCLT order explicitly raises questions about the financial strength and integrity of the Almas-led consortium to acquire Pawan Hans and could be considered seriously by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management when considering bids for Pawan Hans,” said Manoj Kumar, partner at Corporate Professionals. , A corporate advisory firm, said.
Separately, the All India Civil Aviation Employees Union also applied to the Delhi High Court for a stay on the privatization of PHL.
In the first week of May, the Center rejected social media posts that the consortium, Star 9 Mobility, had won the bid for a 51% stake in the loss-making helicopter firm with an offer of Rs 211 crore but did not meet the minimum. A standard value of Rs 300 crore has been set. PHL sales to Star9 are expected to be completed by June.
However, the NCLT order against Almas Global, which was distributed before the government approved the deal, invalidated the transaction.
The consortium alone could raise a net worth of Rs 691 crore with Almas Global.
The other two members of the consortium were Air Transport Service Operators (ATSOs) who had less resources.
According to the existing procedure, the reserve price for the sale of 51% shareholding of PHL was set at Rs 199.92 crore on the basis of valuations conducted by experts (transaction advisors and asset appraisers). The other two monetary rates received were below the reserve price.
The helicopter firm made losses in FY19, FY20 and FY21. The company has a fleet of 41 helicopters, all 15-34 years old.
The state-run Oil Explorer ONGC has a 49% balance in the helicopter farm. ONGC had earlier decided to offer its entire shareholding to the successful bidder identified in the government strategic investment transaction at the same price and condition.