TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Ultimately, they said, they hoped the reform would remove an impediment to higher economic growth.
Almost three years later, those hopes have been badly dented. Litigation has tied down some big restructuring deals and bankers are starting to sell bad debts at fire sale prices rather than wait for the system to work better.
That is bad news for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is keen to get banks lending more to stimulate the economy and create more jobs ahead of an election due by May this year.
“The delay (in resolution) definitely affects the diligence and planning effort of financial investors,” said Vijay Padmanabhan, director of KKR & Co. Inc., one of world’s biggest private equity firms which has said it is keen on investing in India’s distressed assets.
Although Padmanabhan said the current bankruptcy process was faster than before, he cautioned that “litigations have to be contained and timelines have to be maintained to generate serious interest amongst financial investors.”
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, introduced in May 2016, allows even small creditors to file insolvency petitions against a company that had defaulted on debt. Once the petition is accepted by a court, a resolution plan has to be decided within 270 days, failing which the company will be liquidated.
The idea was the law would provide an incentive to owners to negotiate over distressed debt, rather than face an accelerated bankruptcy process over which they would have very little control.
It would also pull in foreign investors seeking distressed investments and potentially high returns, said Siby Antony, chairman of distressed assets resolution business at Edelweiss, which specializes in turning around debt-ridden companies.
Then, the owners of one of India’s biggest defaulters - Essar Steel, which owes 508 billion rupees ($7.11 billion) mostly to state banks - challenged the bankruptcy court’s decision to sell the steel producer to Arcelor Mittal, taking it away from its previous owners, the brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia.
The nine months set for the process has now stretched to more than one and a half years, leaving creditors still not knowing how much of their money will be returned.