Incorporated on 5 January 2000, Avista Corporate Finance is the Indian arm of the Avista Advisory Group, a Singapore-based financial services firm owned by Kochhar-promoted Hillingdon Holdings Pte Ltd.
The Indian unit has posted profits only twice in the past four years, according to data available with the Registrar of Companies (ROC).
Parent Avista Advisory Group, which describes itself as an integrated financial services company focused on South East Asia and India, has also been the subject of recent media reports alleging potential conflict of interest in transactions involving the firm with ICICI Bank in several syndicated loan transactions.
In an interview with Mint, Rajiv Kochhar has denied his firm had any such business arrangement with ICICI Bank.
The Indian arm of the group reported a revenue of Rs12.22 crore in the year ended 31 March 2017, an increase from Rs10.12 crore in the previous year.
The company reported a loss of Rs1.62 crore in 2016-17 and a profit of Rs13.26 lakh in 2015-16.
In 2014-15, the Indian unit reported a revenue of Rs14.4 crore and a loss of Rs38.94 lakh while it reported a revenue of Rs7.85 crore and profit of Rs15.68 lakh in the previous year.
The company has only provided financial statements for the period between 2013-14 to 2016-17 to the RoC.
However, Avista Corporate made large provisions for doubtful debt every year between 2013-14 to 2016-17.
In 2016-17, the company made a provision for unsecured trade receivables, which have been outstanding for a period exceeding six months, worth Rs8.94 crore, while the same for 2015-16 was Rs4.7 crore.
The provision for trade receivables, considered unsecured and doubtful during 2013-14 and 2014-15 stood at Rs12.99 lakh and Rs4.52 crore, respectively.
Several of the company’s top clients often delay making payments which has led the company to make a provision for doubtful debt, Rajiv Kochhar said in a phone interview in response to a questionnaire.
“For various fees (for deals) we are involved every year, people (clients) don’t pay on time and some haven’t paid us, so we provision it and take it as bad debt," Kochhar said.
“You don’t provide for it during first year under normal accounting, second year — they (auditors) say that you have to provide for certain amount and third year you have to provide it for the full amount," he added.
Kochhar said that his company has a full-fledged investment-arm in India which focuses on mergers and acquisitions, restructuring and finance, apart from valuation.
“We are a Singapore-based group with operations in India, Indonesia and South East Asia, and soon we will have office in Middle-East," he said.
Among its notable deals have been Suzlon’s fund raising of $577 million through Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCBs), and Jindal Stainless Ltd’s asset monetization programme of up to $250 million.
Avista Corporate Finance has Hillingdon Holdings Pte Ltd as its holding company, and Tortoise Shell Ltd as the ultimate holding company, according to RoC.
“Hillingdon Holding is the holding company of all our companies in India, Indonesia and South East Asia," Kochhar said.
The Indian arm Avista Corporate Finance Advisory Pvt. Ltd, which has 30 employees at its Mumbai office, hasn’t reported any income from foreign exchange (forex) during 2014-17 in its financialstatements submitted to Registrar of Companies. All fees received by the Indian business is in rupee term, Kochhar said.
The Indian Express had on 2 April reported that Avista Advisory got the mandate to restructure foreign currency-denominated debt deals worth over $1.7 billion of seven companies, all borrowers of ICICI Bank, over the last six years.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and member of Parliament Subramanian Swamy had in a Twitter post on 2 April called for a probe into the dealings of financial services firm Avista Advisory Group with ICICI Bank.
Rajiv Kochhar has denied these allegations.
“The only rule that we follow is not to have any syndication with Indian banks at all. This is some guy who is just trying to create something. There is nothing in it. There is zero record or link between us, " Rajiv Kochhar said in the 2 April interview.