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Chinese banks face SBI hurdle in recovering Anil Ambani dues

By Dev Chatterjee
June 13, 2020 10:30 IST
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With the State Bank of India moving the National Company Law Tribunal’s Delhi bench to enforce the personal guarantees of Ambani, it will delay the recovery of dues by the Chinese banks which won a UK court order in May this year. 

IMAGE: Industrialist Anil D Ambani. Photograph: Reuters.

Chinese banks which are planning to move Indian courts to enforce a $717 million payment ordered by UK courts from Anil Ambani, are facing an additional legal hurdle, with the State Bank of India moving the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Delhi bench to enforce personal guarantees of Ambani. 

SBI’s move comes after almost two years of Reliance Communications being sent to the NCLT for recovery of dues by Indian creditors.  

Corporate lawyers said the latest move by SBI will delay the recovery of dues by the Chinese banks which won a UK court order in May this year. The Chinese banks had invoked personal guarantees given by Ambani to avail of foreign loans by RCom but Ambani had refused to pay the money arguing he never gave any personal guarantees. 

 

Both SBI and the Chinese banks will have a tough time recovering funds from Ambani, considering that he has already submitted to the British court that his net worth is zero. Most of the stake held by Ambani in his Indian companies are already pledged with banks. 

“With SBI now litigating on the personal guarantee issue of Ambani, there will be lots of litigation awaiting the Chinese banks and they will have to wait longer,” said a Mumbai-based lawyer. 

State Bank of India has close to Rs 15,000 crore of exposure in the three Reliance Communications group companies, and is not receiving any dues from the Ambani companies after it agreed to sign a “standstill” agreement in June 2017. 

When contacted, a spokesperson of Anil Ambani said:  "The matter relates to a corporate loan availed by Reliance Communications Limited (RCom) and Reliance Infratel Limited (RITL) and is not a personal loan of Ambani." 

RCom and RITL resolution plans were approved by 100 per cent of their lenders in March this year and these plans are awaiting the approval of NCLT, Mumbai. 

“Ambani will file suitable replies, and the NCLT has not given any relief to the petitioner," the spokesperson said. 

As per the UK court order, the final amount owed under the alleged guarantee will be assessed based on the outcome of the RCom resolution plan filed before NCLT, Mumbai, the ADA officials had said earlier when Chinese banks had won the order in May. 

The company had to shut down its business operations as a result of high debt and a failed merger with Aircel.  RCom has been admitted to NCLT.  

Reliance Industries and UV ARC have emerged as the preferred bidder for RCom companies. 

UV ARC won the race to acquire RCom and its subsidiary, Reliance Telecom Infrastructure Ltd. 

At the same time, RIL won the race for Reliance Infratel for a total consideration of around Rs 23,000 crore (out of this total consideration Reliance Jio will pay Rs 4,700 crore) to be payable over the next seven years.

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Dev Chatterjee in Mumbai
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