TAKING a tough stance to address the bad loan crisis, the government has asked about a dozen big corporate groups — some of the biggest borrowers from public sector banks — to start repaying loans at the earliest by selling off their non-core businesses.
“If we declare them as defaulters or classify their borrowings as bad loans, the market will smell ‘distress’ on any asset they want to sell. We have spoken to some of them and asked them to start paying back over the next couple of months,” a senior government official told The Indian Express.
The official said, “We all know who these industrialists are, and how much they have borrowed.” According to the official, loans taken by companies in the small and medium enterprise (SME) segment make up a bulk of the public sector banks’ non-performing assets.
A Credit Suisse report in October 2015 that analysed the debt of top 10 corporate houses said their combined borrowings had touched Rs 7,33,545 crore, 16 per cent more than in 2013. The 2013 report, called ‘House of Debt’, had estimated their cumulative debt at Rs 6,31,024 crore. The rising stress, it said, was visible in multiple instances of default over the past year.
The top 10 groups that figure in the ‘House of Debt’ are Essar, Reliance ADAG, Adani, GMR, GVK, Lanco, Jaypee, JSW, Videocon and Vedanta.
“The promoters of some of these companies have conveyed to the government that they are in the process of selling their assets to pay back. Jaypee and Reliance ADAG, for instance, have met senior government functionaries stating their intent to show meaningful progress in repaying the debt,” another official, who did not wish to be named, said.
The government, at its highest level, is tracking the loan recovery progress in banks. “We are keen that stalled projects are revived. We understand that some corporates had over-expanded and some suffered due to policy logjam during the last years of the previous government,” the official said.
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