Com hopes to cut debt after SC allows asset sale

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On the stay granted by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in favor of minority investors holding approximately 4% shareholding in Reliance Infratel, which is limited to tower and fibre assets, the SC has not made any comments on merits, and has instead only directed RCom and its lenders to follow due procedure, and file an appeal before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), instead of directly approaching the SC.

By an interim order passed today, the NCLAT has vacated the remaining stay, and allowed execution of sale deeds and deposit of the proceeds with SBI in an escrow account.

The Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the decks for the sale of its assets, including spectrum, to Reliance Jio Infocomm as it vacated a stay granted by the High Court.

However, on 5 April, a two-judge bench headed by justice A.K. Goel asked the parties to approach the NCLAT in accordance with the law. "Accordingly, there is now no bar in immediately completing the asset sales of spectrum, MCNs and real estate, and the same shall be concluded expeditiously", it added.

"As legally advised, and based on the order of the Supreme Court, R-Com is confident of securing appropriate relief from the NCLAT to enable the sales of tower and fibre assets to also be completed at the earliest".

Ericsson India, which had seven-year contract to operate and manage RCom's nationwide network, had filed an insolvency petition against the Anil Ambani-led telecom company over nonpayment of fees.

Based on legal advise, RCom pegs the claim of minority investors in the tower and fibre proceeds, which it fully disputes, "can at best be Rs 200-300 crore".

RCOM can also part with its assets involving media convergence network (MCN) and real estate.

RCom owes the Indian lenders a total of Rs 42,000 crore and its consolidated assets include Reliance Communications, Reliance Infratel and Reliance Telecom.

RCom in a statement to the bourses on Wednesday said that its bondholders have approved "with overwhelming majority" sale of its certain assets to Jio.

SBI had said it had total dues worth Rs 4,027 crore against RCom Consolidated and also asserted that unsecured creditor can not make claims over secured creditors.

A spokesperson for RCom - which is trying to pare its Rs 45,000-crore debt - said the operator will soon move the high court against the order. On March 8, the high court dismissed RComs appeal against the tribunal order.

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