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Banks Decide To Start Recovery Of Kingfisher Loans

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Kingfisher lenders today decided to start the process of recovering Rs 7,500 crore outstanding loans from the grounded airline, saying the company has failed to come up with any specific revival plan.

"We have decided to recall (initiating the recovery process) the loans given to Kingfisher Airlines. However, each bank board will decide the future course of action," Shymal Acharya, the Deputy Managing Director (Mid-Corporates) of SBI, which is leader of consortium of lenders, told reporters after a two-hour meeting of bankers with company representatives.

Besides five bankers led by SBI, the meeting was attended by the airline's management, including CEO Sanjay Agarwal and UB Group President and CFO Ravi Nedungadi, who did not address the waiting reporters.

But Nedungadi later told PTI: "We will wait for an official communication from the consortium of lenders before offering any comment."

The decision comes even as Kingfisher Chairman Vijay Mallya has promised to airline employees about clearing their salaries for 11 months and has assured of restarting operations with the forthcoming summer schedule.

"The airline made no perceptible progress since we met last time in December in terms of an action plan they were supposed to submit. We had given them many chances to come back with a specific positive action plan about their restart plans. But they could not come up with any concrete action plan so far," Acharya said.

"So the consortium today felt that having waited so long, there is no reason for us to give further time to the company," he added.

Once a bank decides to recall advances, obviously it needs to take legal advice for realisation of securities, he said.

He admitted that banks will have to take a "hair cut" in realisation of securities. "Normally, whenever a loan is called off, there is definitely a haircut (the difference between the present market value of collateral and value assessed by the lender). But how much is the haircut, is difficult to quantify," he added.

Kingfisher has been grounded since 1 October last after a labour unrest due to non-payment of salaries which have not been paid since last May.

"The KFA management has been telling us that they need more time because they are working on the Diageo-USL deal which is a very complex one. But bankers feel that we have given enough time and it will be difficult for us to give any further time," Acharya said.

The exposure of banks to the troubled carrier runs into Rs 6,360 crore. Unpaid interest and compounded interest take it to over Rs 7,500 crore.

SBI, the leader of the consortium of lenders, has the maximum exposure with Rs 1,600 crore, followed by Punjab National Bank with Rs 800 crore, IDBI Bank Rs 800 crore, Bank of India Rs 650 crore and Bank of Baroda Rs 550 crore.

"The consortium feels that we should consider recalling advances to the company. Each bank has to go back to the committees or internal authorities and take the necessary approvals," Acharya said.

This is the consortium decision and each bank has to go back to the board and take the approval of the decision, he said, adding, "I think approvals for each of the bank, it will be at the board level because of the size of the advances, Decision should come in within the next 7-10 days."

Banks were hopeful that some money would flow into the airline after Mallya sealed Rs 11,100 crore Diageo deal by selling majority stake in his liquor business United Spirits.

Mallya had, however, said these are two different companies.

The bankers were also banking on some equity infusion into the airline by a foreign player following the enabling regulatory environment, but the airline has not been able to find an investor so far.