Mumbai: Australian asset manager Macquarie has moved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to start insolvency proceedings against Ind-Barath Energy (Utkal) Pvt. Ltd. Ironically, the firm is majority-owned by Macquarie itself.

Macquarie had lent Rs780 crore to Ind-Barath Energy (Utkal) against convertible bonds in 2015. The money was to be used to help existing investors exit, and to build a 700 megawatt (MW) thermal power plant in Odisha. Last year, it converted the bonds to equity, gaining majority ownership.

“Due to delay in commissioning of the plant, Macquarie last year decided to convert its debt instruments into equity shares to take control of the power plant," said a person aware of the developments, on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to reporters.

According to documents with the Hyderabad bench of NCLT, Macquarie now owns more than 99% stake in the firm.

In its petition, Macquarie sought clarity as to whether it can initiate corporate insolvency resolution process against the company “even assuming petitioner is a majority shareholder in the corporate debtor company".

Ind-Barath Energy (Utkal) in its counter to Macquarie’s petition said that since the investor after conversion of debentures is a majority shareholder in the firm, it cannot initiate insolvency proceedings as a financial creditor. The plant is part of Hyderabad-based diversified power generator Ind-Barath group, with 713MW of capacity under operation and 2,865MW of assets under development, across conventional and non-conventional power sources. Its projects are located in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.

Macquarie has filed a separate petition with the Hyderabad bench of NCLT with regards to the conversion of the debentures into equity. The tribunal will hear both petitions on 16 July.

A spokesperson for Macquarie declined to comment. K. Raghu Ramakrishnam Raju, chairman and managing director of Ind-Barath Group too declined to comment on the matter.

The Ind-Barath Energy (Utkal) power plant is not the only power asset of the group facing issues with lenders.

In March, The Hindu reported that state-owned lender Punjab National Bank has put the Group’s 300MW power project in Thoothukudi on sale for non-payment of dues.

A consortium of 18 banks and financial institutions led by PNB have exposure to the power project by way of rupee term loan/working capital facilities, the news report added.

Macquarie has been a major investor in Indian infrastructure space in recent years.

In March, Macquarie won the rights to manage 648km of national highways by bidding Rs9,681.5 crore in an auction held by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), under a government plan to monetize publicly funded, operational national highways through the toll-operate-transfer (ToT) model.

Last year, Mint reported that the Australian asset manager had acquired about 330MW of operational solar assets from power producer Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt. Ltd for an enterprise value of $600 million.

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