As rival sweetens bid, JSW Steel hits hurdle to acquire Asian Colour

Interups claims it will make the payment upfront in 30 days of the NCLT approving the plan
JSW Steel’s Rs 1,550-crore offer to acquire Asian Colour Coated Ispat (ACCIL) is facing a hurdle, with a rival pitching in Rs 2,000 crore during the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) proceedings.

In its submission to the NCLT, Interups, a US-based fund, said it would make the payment upfront in 30 days of the NCLT approving the plan, and offered to put in an additional Rs 400 crore as investment in the first year of acquiring the business of ACCIL.

ACCIL had defaulted on loans of Rs 5,000 crore and was sent to the NCLT in July 2018. An Interups spokesperson declined to comment. Nor did a JSW official, who said the matter was subjudice. 

A JSW insider said the company was still in the race. Interups had not submitted an expression of interest and wanted to delay the process, the person added. 

JSW was not allowed to participate in acquiring Essar Steel because it was not able to submit an expression of interest, said a company insider.
During the hearing, Interups said it would submit the resolution plan within 10 days of receiving the requisite documents and data of ACCIL and was willing to put in Rs 500 crore in an escrow account to demonstrate its intention to acquire ACCIL.

JSW was declared winner of the company in June last year but it has not paid the banks because the matter is pending in the NCLT.

When Interups offered to better the offer in June this year, the resolution professional (RP) rejected the application, saying the bidding process was over and JSW’s offer was pending with the NCLT.

Before it was sent to the NCLT, ACCIL was offering a vast array of products including steel coils and sheets, having a wide range of applications across industries. 

It has manufacturing facilities near Mumbai and New Delhi with a capacity of one million tonnes per annum.

During the NCLT hearing, Interups lawyer Kapil Sibal said the foreign fund was a serious investor and wanted to achieve the common and mutual interest of value maximisation by offering 33 per cent higher than what JSW did. 

He said the applicant was willing to invest a further Rs 400 crore in the first year to keep ACCIL going. Objecting to the RP’s rejection of Interups’ offer, Sibal said the RP did not even put up the fund’s resolution plan for the committee of creditors’ (CoC’s) consideration.

Citing the previous NCLT decisions in the cases of Oriental Bank of Commerce versus Bindal Sponge Industries, and ICICI Bank versus Unimark Remedies, Sibal said this was not the first time that a fresh bid had been approved at a belated stage and that the NCLT had the powers to direct the CoC to consider the plan. Sibal told the court the RP should not have exercised his own judgment in accepting or rejecting resolution plan because that was a business decision the CoC took.

JSW Steel has won the race for Bhushan Power and Steel by offering a Rs 19,700 crore to lenders and was in negotiations with them to close the transaction when the pandemic hit the country and a nationwide lockdown was announced. 

JSW is also awaiting the results of the litigation initiated against the acquisition by former the Bhushan Power promoters.

JSW acquired Monnet Ispat for Rs 2,875 crore in 2018 under the bankruptcy process.

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