India's IL&FS says aims to resolve nearly 60% of debt despite pandemic delays

Credit: REUTERS/FRANCIS MASCARENHAS

India's Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) said on Monday it expected to resolve about 57% of its near trillion rupee ($13.35 billion) debt pile even as the pandemic delayed the resolution process in some of the group companies.

By Abhirup Roy and Chris Thomas

MUMBAI/BENGALURU, July 20 (Reuters) - India's Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) said on Monday it expected to resolve about 57% of its near trillion rupee ($13.35 billion) debt pile even as the pandemic delayed the resolution process in some of the group companies.

About 50% of the debt is expected to be resolved by March 2021, the indebted infrastructure lender's board said in a progress report, with 18% already addressed as of June end. The board had said in an update in October that it aimed to resolve 50% of the debt by March this year.

"So far whatever we have achieved, I do believe, is relatively successful given the current macro-economic situation, because this has been a triple whammy for all of us: bad lending, no follow up, and economic disaster all around," Vice-Chairman Vineet Nayyar told reporters.

The new board, led by banker Uday Kotak, was appointed by the government in 2018 after a series of defaults by IL&FS and its group companies triggered concerns of a bad debt crisis in India's shadow banking sector.

Since then, management has put several of its group companies up for sale to raise funds to pay off creditors.

The total number of group entities has fallen to 276 from 347, the company said, adding that only 60 group entities will remain by March 2021.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to one bidder walking away from a road project at the last minute and is expected to erode the value of bids in real estate assets, Managing Director CS Rajan said. The claims process is also a challenge, with liquidity constraints at state governments, he added.

"This is the game plan we have given considering the risks, to the best of our judgment," IL&FS' non-executive chairman Uday Kotak said. "Therefore we are putting out transparently things as we see today, and our reasonable estimate of how things look as we go forward."

($1 = 74.8899 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy and Chris Thomas, editing by Louise Heavens)

((abhirup.roy@thomsonreuters.com; + 91 22 6180 7067; Reuters Messaging: abhirup.roy.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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