NEW DELHI: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has given up hopes of recovering dues worth almost Rs 6,000 crore, including penalties and interest, from debt-laden carrier Aircel, which is struggling to sell assets and repay debt as part of the bankruptcy protection process.
Senior officials in the department say they don’t expect the company, dragged by a debt of Rs 19,000 crore just to financial lenders, to be in a position to repay even a part of the money it owes to its creditors, any time soon. The telco, owned by Malaysia’s Maxis, owes roughly Rs 50,000 crore to all types of creditors, including financial and operational.
“We have submitted our statement of claims to the interim resolution professional (IRP)… but it will take at least 2-3 years for the complete process which includes determining how much can they pay up and to who all, even after the cash comes,” said a senior official.
As things stand, the government has laid out its dues of Rs 6,666 crore, which the Indian arm of the Malaysia’s Maxis Communications has to pay. Of this, Rs 722 crore of one-time spectrum charge (OTSC) is covered by bank guarantees while the remaining amount including spectrum usage charge, license fee, interest and penalties is not covered by bank guarantees.
OTSC dues have been challenged by the telco in the Supreme Court, and a decision is pending.
“The company will not come back. It (dues) will simply go into our books and their (creditors including banks) books,” the official said. The carrier is being run by an IRP — Vijayakumar Iyer from Deloitte — who is trying to find ways to sell parts of the company as a going concern.
At the last meeting of the committee of creditors (CoC) of the telco and its two units — Dishnet Wireless and Aircel Cellular — of which DoT is a part, the IRP warned that the bankrupt company needed an immediate cash infusion of Rs 200 crore to maintain its infrastructure and pay salaries for some of its businesses and assets to be sold in order to repay at least some of the debt.
The IRP is learnt to have said that some parties have placed bids for some of the telco’s assets, but warned that by the time they fructify into a sale, their value will erode because of lack of maintenance, and hence the need for an urgent cash infusion.
Insiders expect the company’s enterprise business to be put on the block first.
The bankruptcy court, while admitting the pleas of Aircel and its two units for insolvency back in March, had noted that the enterprise business, along with the company’s spectrum, towers, fibre and other assets worth Rs 32,000 crore, could help revive the carrier.