Essar HouseReuters

World's biggest steel producer ArcelorMittal will have to wait further to take over debt-laden Essar Steel in spite of the National Company Law Tribunal's (NCLT) nod for its Rs 42,000-crore proposal, reports suggest. Essar Steel promoters Ruia family has said they are looking at the options available including an appeal to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

The appellate tribunal had earlier directed NCLT Ahmedabad to pass an order on ArcelorMittal's takeover bid of Essar Steel by March 8. A spokesperson of Essar Steel said: "We continue to believe that our settlement proposal of Rs 54,389 crore is the most compelling one available to Essar Steel creditors and fulfils the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code's (IBC) declared overriding objective of value maximisation, which has been established time and again by courts at all levels. We are also confident of the legal validity of our said offer made under Section 12A, which provides for the withdrawal from the IBC process by making full payment to the creditors. We are awaiting a copy of the NCLT order, and will take a call on next steps after examining the same."

Meanwhile, industry circles consider the NCLT order as a major win for LN Mittal-led ArcelorMittal. The two-member bench of Harihar Prakash Chaturvedi and Manorama Kumari also suggested a "better implementation" of ArcelorMittal's resolution plan.

The tribunal suggested that instead of keeping 92 percent under the proposed plan, financial creditors could limit their share to 85 percent so that operational creditors might get 15 percent instead of 8 percent.

The tribunal also suggested the inclusion of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) in the 85 percent share among financial creditors, unlike ArcelorMittal's proposal, which excluded most of SCB's claims. However, the tribunal said these were merely suggestions and would not affect its order approving ArcelorMittal's plan.

Lakshmi Mittal, head of Mittal Steel, and his son Aditya Mittal, President and CFO.
The Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel-making company, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal with son Aditya Mittal.Reuters

"This court has limited jurisdiction and cannot impose its view on the commercial wisdom of the committee of creditors," the bench stated.

The ArcelorMittal's bid includes an upfront payment of Rs 42,000 crore ($5.7 billion) towards the debt resolution of Essar Steel with an additional Rs 8,000 crore ($1.1 billion) of capital infusion into the company to support operational improvement, increase production levels and deliver enhanced levels of profitability, according to a report in the Business Standard. In October 2018, the committee of creditors (CoC) of Essar Steel had voted to approve ArcelorMittal's plan and a letter of intent was issued.

"We welcome today's pronouncement by the NCLT Ahmedabad. While we need to review the full written order once it becomes available, we hope to complete the transaction as soon as possible," an ArcelorMittal spokesperson said. As in the case of Bhushan Steel, where Tata Steel had moved in within 72 hours of winning the bid in the tribunal, ArcelorMittal may seek to move in to take hold of Essar Steel without delay.