|Photo: The Economic Times|
Lanco Infratech's promoter L Madhusudhan Rao has found a white knight in fellow utility operator OP Gupta to bail him out of the Rs..41,000-crore loan mess even as bankers want to split the business into three — power, EPC and other businesses such as road and gas — which would also involve conversion of a majority of loans into deep discounted bond.
The engineering procurement and construction, or EPC vertical, would have a loan of Rs.2,300 crore on its book but the debt burden would be reduced as the company has proposed to convert 90% debt into equity. Interestingly, the new promoter Gupta, who is brought on board by the company, will get majority stake by investing Rs.150 crore.
A further 90% of Rs 5300-crore debt will be converted into deep discount bonds, known as Optionally Convertible Redeemable Preference Shares (OCRPS), with a five-year tenure offering 9.75% interest rate. The company management informed lenders that Gupta has two power plants — a 313 mw plant in Tamil Nadu and another 400 mw plant in Gujarat.
As per the proposal, Lanco Infratech will be the holding company for all three verticals in which Rao's stake will be reduced to 26% from 70% at present, while lenders would have 57% equity stake. The company has also sought an additional loan of Rs 4,000 crore from banks to complete some of its existing projects. Speaking to ET, two senior bank officials said that they are disappointed that the new promoter will own majority stake in the company by infusing "just about Rs 150 crore".
Recently, there were also media reports that Piramal Enterprises, led by billionaire Ajay Piramal, is betting big on the infrastructure sector and the diversified company has entered the race to pick up a stake in debt-ridden Lanco Infra's thermal power portfolio.
Preliminary talks have been initiated between Lanco Infra which is looking at inducting strategic investors to reduce its debt & the structured investment group of Piramal Enterprises which falls under Piramal Capital. A few overseas distressed asset funds are also interested in the portfolio. On completion and on a fully operational basis, the enterprise value of the 6 power plants of Lanco Infra is estimated between Rs.42,000 crs to Rs.45,000 crores.