Bidding wars: Numetal reveals Rs 370 billion new offer for Essar Steel

Essar's admitted financial claims are to the tune of Rs 490 billion
VTB-backed Numetal on Thursday disclosed in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) that its bid value in the second round of bidding for Essar Steel is Rs 370 billion, short of double its first offer of Rs 190 billion, and about Rs 65 billion higher than ArcelorMittal’s bid in the first round.

If the bid values of the two companies are compared, Numetal’s bid value in the second round at Rs 430 billion (including capital infusion) is higher than ArcelorMittal’s first offer by Rs 45 billion. ArcelorMittal’s bid in the second round, however, is not known.

Counsel representing Numetal, Mukul Rohatgi, said in the NCLAT on Thursday that Numetal had offered Rs 370 billion in the second round of bidding. 

ArcelorMittal’s bid value in the first round, which is under consideration right now, included a payment of Rs 305 billion to secured lenders and a capital infusion of Rs 80 billion. Sources close to ArcelorMittal said if what the firm offered for Uttam Galva Steels and KSS Petron was added, the amount would be Rs 455 billion — higher than what Numetal has offered.

Numetal, however, is also offering Rs 20 billion for Odisha Slurry Pipeline Infrastructure, which is facing insolvency proceedings and owns a 253km pipeline, key for Essar's raw material supply.

Essar's admitted financial claims are to the tune of Rs 490 billion.

ArcelorMittal's counsel, Abhisek Manu Singhvi, told the NCLAT that the second round of bids had become "infructuous" after the repayment of dues on account of Uttam Galva Steels and KSS Petron. ArcelorMittal has parked Rs 70 billion in an escrow account of State Bank of India towards the repayment.

The offer made by ArcelorMittal, however, was subject to the company being declared an eligible bidder. In a statement on Thursday the company said: “ArcelorMittal has participated in the resolution process for Essar Steel in good faith from the start. On February 12, we submitted a competitive offer to creditors that we understand was the superior offer received. Moreover, while we have always believed our offer was eligible, as a demonstration of our commitment to India and Essar Steel, we have indicated to the committee of creditors (CoC) our readiness to settle outstanding dues of companies where we only had a passive shareholding. We would hope that this very serious offer would be given appropriate consideration and that we will be identified as the preferred bidder.”

A counsel representing the CoC for Essar was also present in the NCLAT on Thursday to seek direction on ArcelorMittal's offer of Rs 70 billion. The CoC has made written submissions in the matter.

The next date for hearing has been fixed for May 22. The CoC had followed the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) order of the Ahmedabad Bench and had given seven days to Numetal and ArcelorMittal to pay their dues on account of links to non-performing assets (NPAs) for more than a year to cure their ineligibility.

Numetal was asked to clear dues on account of Rewant Ruia's exposure in the consortium. Rewant Ruia is son of Ravi Ruia who is the promoter of Essar. 

ArcelorMittal was asked to clear dues on account of Uttam Galva Steels and KSS Petron. ArcelorMittal had sold the shares in Uttam Galva Steels and KSS Petron but the NCLT said doing so was not enough for eligibility. 

The NCLT Bench had remanded the first round of bids to the resolution professional and the CoC for reconsideration and pointed towards payment of overdue amount as a cure for ineligibility. It had said that the second round of bids though prudent was not legally sound. Hence, the second round of bids that were submitted on April 2, have not been opened. 

In the second round, Numetal had dropped Aurora Enterprises of which Rewant Ruia was the ultimate beneficiary, from the consortium to become eligible. Also, Numetal was joined by JSW Steel in a step-down subsidiary, Nu Metal & Steel Pvt Ltd, which was responsible for implementing the resolution plan. Vedanta, too, had submitted a resolution plan.

A Vedanta official said, "If the second round of bidding is considered, our bid should be considered. The bid is valid because the fact is that a second round of bids was called."

A two-member Bench of NCLAT said that the NCLT Ahmedabad Bench could extend the period of Coporate Insolvency Resolution Process. The stipulated 270-day deadline for Essar is ending on May 28.

NCLAT is currently hearing cross appeals by ArcelorMittal and Numetal.

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