Reliance Jio Infocomm, in a bid to expedite the acquisition process of the debt-laden Reliance Infratel (RITL), has offered to deposit the total resolution amount of `3,500 crore in an escrow account.
Reliance Projects and Properties Management Services, a subsidiary of Reliance Jio, has moved a fresh application before the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), stating that the delay in the resolution process is causing “severe harm” to the interests of the corporate debtor and the resolution applicant.
Reliance Projects had emerged as the winning bidder for RITL, the holding company of debt-laden Reliance Communications’ tower and fibre assets, in March 2020.
“It is submitted that the resolution applicant (Reliance Projects) is committed to and is in readiness and willingness to implement the resolution plan. However, pendency of inter-creditor disputes is resulting in further delays in implementation, which, in turn will also deteriorate the value of assets of the corporate debtor, if urgent actions are not taken,” it said.
“In order to avoid further delays, the applicant proposes to deposit the total resolution amount (as defined in the resolution plan) in an account as was directed by the tribunal,” Reliance Projects said in an interlocutory application filed last month.
The company has also sought direction from the tribunal to the monitoring committee and respondents to take all steps to implement the resolution plan.
The funds deposited in an escrow account would be distributed among the lenders after settlement of the resolution plan and creditors’ disputes. State Bank of India, Doha Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Emirates Bank are among a number of banks involved in a legal battle, now pending before the Supreme Court, over the distribution of funds.
In May 2018, Reliance Communications’ Indian lenders referred the company and its subsidiaries — RITL and Reliance Telecom — to the NCLT after the firm, then controlled by Anil Ambani, failed to pay dues worth `46,000 crore. In 2020, with a bid of `4,000 crore, Reliance Projects emerged as the successful resolution applicant. The Committee of Creditors approved the resolution plan in March 2020, while it received NCLT approval in December 2020.
The process came to a halt in November 2020, after SBI, Union Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank tagged RITL as a “fraud account” following a forensic audit. In May 2021, Reliance Projects moved the NCLT, asking it to direct the lenders to share the audit report, saying that terming the accounts fraudulent had not been disclosed before the NCLT. Financial Express