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Bankers to meet next week, may recast bad loans of Anil Ambani

The Anil Ambani-owned firm has defaulted on its loan servicing obligations with more than 10 banks.

India TV Business Desk, Mumbai [Published on:01 Jun 2017, 4:51 PM IST]
File pic of Anil Ambani
File pic of Anil Ambani

A consortium of banks led by State Bank of India (SBI) is likely to meet next week to discuss restructuring of Reliance Communications’ Rs 40,000 crore loans that are on verge of turning into non-performing assets.

The Anil Ambani-owned firm has defaulted on its loan servicing obligations with more than 10 banks. 

According to reports, some of the banks in their asset books have categorised RCom’s loans as ‘Special Mention Account’ (SMA), meaning accounts have symptoms of bad asset quality.

SMA assets are loans where interest remains outstanding for 30-90 days after due payment date. As per the SMA regulations, introduced by the RBI in 2014, banks categorise such accounts as early as possible in an effort to identify accounts that have the potential to become an NPA.

The development comes in the backdrop of three rating agencies including Moody’s Investors Service downgrading the company’s debt.

Allaying concerns, the Anil Ambani-led group company has said that it has told lenders that it would repay Rs 25,000 crore before September 30 this year post completion of its three different deals. 

Other agencies like Care and Icra have also downgraded the rating of RCom. 

The company is in the process to offload its tower business to Brookfield Infrastructure Group. The two other deals include merger with Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited and with Aircel Group.

"On completion of these transactions, the residual entity will be left with a lower quantum of debt. However, the debt coverage metrics of the residual entity are expected to remain subdued," RCom said in a statement.

“The company has formally advised all its lenders that it will be making repayment of an aggregate amount of Rs 25,000 crore from the proceeds of these two transactions, on or before 30th September, 2017. The said amount will cover not only all scheduled repayments, but also include substantial pre-payments to all lenders on a pro-rata basis,” it added.

RCom had reported loss of Rs 948 crore in March quarter, compared to a net profit of Rs 79 crore in year-ago period, hurt by the intense price war unleashed by newcomer RJio.

The rating of RCom has been reduced to Caa1 (reflects poor quality and very high credit risk) from B2 (speculative and high credit risk).

At the same time, the ratings are under review for further downgrade, Moody's said in a statement. 

The downgrade reflects RCom's weak operating performance, high leverage and fragile liquidity position, Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer Annalisa DiChiara said.

"The company's reported EBITDA has fallen 29 per cent year-over-year, evidencing its weak market position and contracting subscriber base," DiChiara added.

She said RCom's liquidity position is fragile as it has around Rs 23,000 crore short-term debt and current long term debt maturities through March 31, 2018.

Also, the company has disclosed that it is still awaiting formal confirmation from lenders for waivers of certain loan covenants.

"So, the loan amount continues to be classified as a non-current liability. We believe failure to obtain could exacerbate near-term liquidity pressures," DiChiara added.

Given the weak operating outlook and high competitive intensity of the Indian mobile sector, there is no scope for RCom to de-lever, absent the successful execution of its corporate restructuring, Moody's said.

It said further downward pressure on the ratings is possible if the company fails to address its liquidity position within the next three months, or fails to provide a clear refinancing plan for pending maturities over the next 12-15 months.

Apart from Moody's, two other agencies -- ICRA and CARE -- have also revised their ratings on the company's loan facilities.

"The reasons for these revisions include Reliance Communication's weak operating performance, high leverage, the weak internal cash flow generation against sizeable debt servicing obligations and delays in debt servicing by the company," it said in a filing to the BSE.

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