Future group seeking buyers for insurance arm to pay off its debt

The group sold several assets to reduce its debt, including a stake sale to Amazon.
The Future group is looking for a buyer for its insurance venture to ease pressure on the promoter entities to pay off its debt. With the share prices of group companies falling rapidly on the bourses, the group is facing margin calls from banks to either expedite the sale of its insurance arm or sell more stakes in its operating firms, say bankers. The ongoing shutdown of retail outletswill further put pressure on the group as sales of operating companies fall, say analysts.

The total market capitalisation of the group’s listed firms fell to Rs 10,740 crore from Rs 42,000 crore reported a year ago. At the same time, value of pledged shares fell by half to Rs 8,100 crore a year ago to Rs 3,868 crore currently. The group has to pay debt of Rs 316 crore and Rs 729 crore in FY21 and FY22, respectively.

Last week, the group’s holding firm — Future Corporate Resources — was downgraded by rating firm, ICRA to junk status citing the high debt of its promoter entities.

The group sold several assets to reduce its debt, including a stake sale to Amazon. Their external debt reduced to Rs 1,430 crore as of December 31, 2019. At the same time, the total debt at the group’s listed firms went up to Rs 12,778 crore as of September 30, 2019, from Rs 10,951 crore as of March 31, 2019.

An email sent to Future group did not elicit any response until going to press.

With continued reduction in the share price of the Future group listed companies, ICRA said the total group debt to market capitalisation had increased to 1.2 times as on March 16, 2020, from 0.4 times as on March 31, 2019. Furthermore, this has resulted in an increase in the pledged shareholding of the promoter group, resulting in reduced financial flexibility.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel