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Deepak Kochhar, founder of NuPower Renewables and husband of ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar.
Deepak Kochhar, founder of NuPower Renewables and husband of ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar.

NuPower Renewables is in news for all the wrong reasons

Questions have been raised on ICICI Bank loans to Videocon, whose chairman Venugopal Dhoot had dealings with NuPower Renewables, founded by Deepak Kochhar, husband of ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar

New Delhi: NuPower Renewables Pvt. Ltd founded by Deepak Kochhar is in the news for all the wrong reasons.

News reports have raised questions about ICICI Bank Ltd sanctioning loans to Videocon group.

Videocon chairman Venugopal Dhoot allegedly had dealings with NuPower Renewables, founded by Deepak Kochhar, who is ICICI Bank chief executive officer and managing director Chanda Kochhar’s husband.

Mint couldn’t independently ascertain the veracity of these allegations.

“For a firm that has set up 180MW (megawatts) wind capacity, they have been pretty low key," said a Gurugram-based chief executive of a clean energy firm, requesting anonymity.

According to information available on NuPower website, it has around 700MW of clean energy portfolio. Of this, the firm has an operational wind power capacity of around 177.85MW.

The firm has also manufactured 2.05MW wind turbines with German technology from Wind to Energy (W2E) GmbH.

Analysts say NuPower lacks scale.

“NuPower is a relatively small-scale developer with about 150MW of wind power capacity spread in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Most of this capacity was set up several years ago. The company also got into turbine manufacturing, but has been relatively dormant since 2013. They have not participated in any new tenders or projects of late," said Vinay Rustagi, managing director at consulting firm Bridge to India.

The firm, which got incorporated on 24 December 2008, has wind farms in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Rajasthan. According to rating agency CARE, its subsidiaries include Echanda Urja Pvt. Ltd (EUPL) and NuPower Wind Farm Ltd (NWFL).

“NuPower Renewables is promoted by Mr. Deepak Kochhar and Associates. Further, there has been investments by a private equity fund, namely Accion Diversified Strategies Fund, SPC, Singapore through its SPV DH Renewables Holding Ltd (DHRH). DHRH has a total investment of Rs397.71 crore in NuPower Renewables as on 31 March 2017," CARE Ratings, which has a ‘BBB+’ rating on NuPower, said in a 28 February statement.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a preliminary enquiry against Deepak Kochhar and Venugopal Dhoot to verify the loan to the company.

“I am a stakeholder. I keep watching the corporate affairs and I keep seeing what is happening: the usual, unusual and the economic affairs. And if such a big group Videocon forms a joint venture with some company, then obviously one would like to keep it on radar and would watch," said investor Arvind Gupta, who had filed the complaint alleging dubious loans to Videocon group of companies.

When contacted on Friday, Deepak Kochhar asked Mint to email him the queries. Queries emailed on Friday remained unanswered.

“I deny it (the allegations)," said Venugopal Dhoot, chairman of Videocon group, over the phone on Friday. He asked Mint to send him detailed questions over WhatsApp, but no response was received till the time of filing this story.

Deepak Kochhar was a financial services entrepreneur before he founded NuPower in late 2008. Kochhar, who has a Master’s degree in finance from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai University, has ambitious plans for his company as reported by Mint on 14 January 2016.

Deepak Kochhar, who is chief executive officer of NuPower Group, had then said the firm plans to develop 1 gigawatt (GW) of capacity over next six years.

“There are so many businesses that may give a higher return; but here, there is some sense of passion. Here, you are contributing to energy security for the nation, to global climate change, and there is huge savings in foreign exchange for the country on account of (increased) coal import substitution and improved technology," Mint had quoted Kochhar as stating in the January 2016 story. This statement came in the backdrop of the largest global green energy expansion programme unfolding in India. The National Democratic Alliance government has set an ambitious clean energy target of 175GW by 2022, of which 100GW is to come from solar projects and 60GW from wind power.

According to CARE, NuPower “is engaged in generation of power through wind with an aggregate operational capacity of 134.75MW located in Tamil Nadu, 10.2MW in Karnataka and 4.2MW in Rajasthan. Further, the firm commissioned additional capacity of 28.70MW (2.05 MW yet to be commissioned) in October 2015 totaling 177.85MW".

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