Akhil Gupta's family firm bids for debt-laden Videocon Industries

Gupta, who is credited with the success of Bharti Airtel, has been a close confidant of Sunil Mittal
A family-owned firm of Akhil Gupta, vice-chairman of Bharti Enterprises, has made a bid for Videocon Industries, the home appliances company that is currently facing bankruptcy proceedings over default.

Gupta, who worked for Bharti Airtel for 18 years, confirmed that his son Anubhav bid for Videocon through Avanti Investfin Pvt Ltd. But he did not spell out the details.

A banking source said the offer for the company was placed before the committee of creditors (CoC) on Wednesday but no decision was taken by the lenders. 

A proposal made by Videocon promoter Venugopal Dhoot, under Section 12A of the IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code), 2016, was also discussed during the meeting. “Bankers are expecting more offers to come once the pandemic is over and no final decision was taken,” said a source close to the development.

Gupta, who is credited with the success of Bharti Airtel, has been a close confidant of Sunil Mittal, the billionaire promoter of the company. Gupta, say industry sources, was a pioneer in the telecom sector because he started outsourcing network and IT to Ericsson and IBM. This reduced the capital expenditure (capex) of Bharti Airtel and the company paid them by usage. This became the norm across the world, said the source.

Anubhav is also director, according to Zaubacorp.com, in other family-owned companies, which include Square Root Hospitalities, which is involved in hotels, camping sites and short-stay accommodation. The other company in which he is director is Inversion Management Services.          Indian lenders have claimed Rs 59,000 crore from Videocon Industries. Videocon, once India’s largest home appliances company, also tried its hands in the wireless telephony industry. However, after SC cancelled its licence, it lost Rs 10,000 crore in the gamble.
In its latest proposal, Videocon promoters have said that the group – which started operations in 1984 and continued till December 2016 – has never been a defaulter. 

In fact, it managed to take on competition from cheap products, which were made in China and dumped in the Indian market. But the Supreme Court judgment in 2012 hit the financial metrics of the entire group and it did not recover after that. 

Around May 2016, Videocon’s accounts were declared special mention account following a default by the Joint Lenders’ Forum. But in May 2017, the Reserve Bank of India came out with its norms under IBC and the company was sent to National Company Law Tribunal by 2017-end. Since then, the matter is pending with the court and lenders, with no solution in sight.

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