Bangalore: GMR Infrastructure Ltd’s new chief financial officer Madhu Terdal took over the reins from the outgoing Subbarao Amarthaluru in April, just in time to announce the company’s first annual profit in two years on Friday. The company also announced its first quarterly profit after nine successive quarters of losses.

Coming at a time when GMR, which has interests in power plants, highways and airports, is looking to cope with a difficult economy, its ouster from the airport modernization project in Male and underperforming power stations, Terdal in an interview on Friday spoke about the company’s recent stake sales and its future. Edited excerpts:

Shares pledged by the promoters have surged. Are they being forced to pledge shares with banks in lieu of debt?

How do I keep running? I have to keep running, no? I have to keep earning. I have to keep repaying (debt). There are no fresh revenues. The only way is I have to keep borrowing, pledging my shares. In fact, we have even sold some of the personal properties of the promoters. We are reducing our cost. We have told nobody can travel by business class. So we are doing everything possible to cut down our cost. And we have to keep generating revenues, no? Definitely, I have to pledge some more shares. Don’t take it as I am under pressure. What are all the avenues that are available, I am doing it.

There is a belief that you have bitten off more than this economy would allow you to chew.

It is a very wrong statement. During the period 2003 to 2009, the country has grown. GMR has grown. Every company in this country has grown. See, my market was $10 billion. If gas was given to me, I would have been a billion dollar PAT (profit after tax). Where is the question of my biting more than I can chew? We were perfectly aligned. Unfortunately, the government let us down. I used to make presentations to the investors. We had drawn our numbers accurately. Nobody imagined this recession. Nobody imagined this kind of a wonderfully performing government.

You are saying that the government is not doing what it should do, in terms of giving coal linkage, etc. But the fact is you cannot go to the banks saying that the government didn’t do what it was supposed to do. You have to continue repaying. What are you doing about that?

That is what I am doing. I am pledging my shares. I am disposing of my personal properties. I am disposing of some of the assets where I have reached maximum value, where I (am) convinced that I cannot generate (more value), so sell those assets. Tomorrow, let me say Male (arbitration in the matter is ongoing in a Singapore court) is there, I will make 500 crore profit. If I get some arbitration in KUA (Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad highway project that GMR terminated in January), I will make profit. So, today I am getting out all the poison in my system.

We are in a very comfortable situation. We are repaying (loans) regularly. We have not defaulted anything. So we are in a very comfortable situation.

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