IL&FS board likely to meet again this week; to chalk out course of action

The newly constituted board of the beleaguered IL&FS under the chairmanship of Uday Kotak may meet this week again to chalk out the future course of action to resolve the current financial crisis, according to a source.

Following a marathon first board meeting held last Thursday, it is learnt that the members will meet this week again to propose how the crisis can be resolved at the debt-ridden Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) group.

To take stock of the current situation, the new board members held their first meeting last week, which was followed by a management as well as a lawyers' presentation.

"What the IL&FS group proposes to do is still to be decided and hopefully the board will meet this week again (to decide the future course of action)," the source said.

It will consume time to explore the exact reasons behind the present mess that has led to a series of loan defaults by various IL&FS group companies, he added.

IL&FS group is credited with building India's longest 9.2 kilometres Chenani-Nashri tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir which was thrown open for public in April 2017.

The infra lending and engineering conglomerate major currently sits on a debt burden of nearly Rs 910 billion and has been downgraded to junk status by rating agencies following the default.

Of this, Rs 570 billion are bank loans alone, most of which are from state-owned lenders.

A spate of debt defaults started emanating from its various group companies from September, followed by resignations of its Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer Ramesh C Bawa as well as several independent board members.

On October 1, government superseded the board of IL&FS and appointed a six-member board with Kotak as the non-executive chairman.

After the maiden board meeting held on October 4, Kotak briefed the media suggesting the IL&FS crisis appears more complex than it looks like as there were as many as 348 subsidiaries of the group, much larger than what was told earlier.

"We undertook an initial assessment of the ground reality and the way forward. We'll meet frequently to implement the directions of NCLT and to prepare a roadmap and turnaround," Kotak, who heads private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank, had said.

The company was earlier claiming that it had around 150 subsidiaries, including around 50 overseas.

The other members on the IL&FS board are former Executive Vice Chairman of Tech Mahindra Vineet Nayyar, former Sebi Chairman G N Bajpai, ICICI Bank Non-Executive Chairperson G C Chaturvedi, and IAS officer Malini Shankar, and retired bureaucrat Nand Kishore.

State-owned insurer LIC is the largest shareholder with a fourth of the equity in IL&FS, and Orix Corporation of Japan owns 23.5 per cent.

Other shareholders include Abu Dhabi Investment Authority with 12.5 per cent stake, IL&FS Employees Welfare Trust with 12 per cent, HDFC with 9.02 per cent, Central Bank of India with 7.67 per cent and State Bank of India (SBI) with 6.42 per cent at the March-end 2018.

Both the LIC and SBI Chairmen have stated that they will look at every opportunity to resolve the IL&FS crisis and won't let it fall.

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