Coils of red hot steel rod cool as they pass along the production line. (Photographer Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg)

Numetal Offers Rs 37,000 Crore For Essar Steel, Seeks Second Round Of Bids

Russia’s VTB Capital-led Numetal Mauritius Pvt Ltd. today told the company law appellate tribunal that it has offered over Rs 37,000 crore for Essar Steel Ltd. in the second round of bidding.

The second round should be opened and the highest bidder selected from it, Numetal told the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal. ArcelorMittal, the only other bidder to have put in a bid for Essar Steel in the first round in February, however, opposed the opening of the second round of bids and sought only the first round of bids to be considered.

At a hearing of counter petitions filed in the NCLAT, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Numetal, said that the second round would help to maximise value for lenders.

Essar Steel is being auctioned after the company defaulted on payment of about Rs 49,000 crore loan to lenders.

Rohatgi submitted that the resolution professional, who is conducting the auction of Essar Steel, should open the second round of bids as it would help realise the maximum value for the assets. “Our bid in the second round is much higher at Rs 37,000 crore. Let there be competition,” he said.

Both Numetal and ArcelorMittal put in a second round of bids after the first bids were opined to be invalid – Numetal because of it being 25 percent owned by Aurora Trust of Ruia family, the promoters of Essar Steel; and ArcelorMittal because it held shares in loan defaulting companies Uttam Galva Steel and KSS Petron.

Also read: Numetal, ArcelorMittal Allowed To Clear Dues To Bid For Essar Steel: Exclusive

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code bars participation by promoters of delinquent companies in bidding for assets being auctioned. For the second round of bid, VTB Bank sought to sever ties with Ruia family by buying out Aurora Trust's stake in Numetal.

Appearing for ArcelorMittal, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi opposed Numetal’s plea saying the second round of bid had become “infructuous” after the world's largest steelmaker paid Rs 7,000 crore to cure its ineligibility.

ArcelorMittal transferred Rs 7,000 crore to an escrow account of SBI to clear outstanding loans of Uttam Galva and KKS Petron.

A two-member bench of NCLAT, headed by Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya, which was hearing the matter, directed the case to be list on May 22 for next hearing. It also said that NCLT Ahmedabad could also extend the period of the corporate insolvency resolution process.

Under the present law, the insolvency proceedings are to be completed within 270 days. This period is slated to end on May 28. In the second round of bidding, mining baron Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources joined the race. JSW Steel joined Numetal for the bid.

Russia’s VTB Capital-backed Numetal Ltd. has challenged a lower court order allowing rival ArcelorMittal to clear bank dues of associate companies so that it can become eligible to acquire Essar Steel. ArcelorMittal, on the other hand, has challenged its disqualification from bidding.