Kolkata: The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has allowed James Warren Tea Ltd to make a resolution bid for Assam Co. India Ltd—the country’s oldest surviving plantation company.

The bench of justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya has asked the resolution professional of Assam Co. to provide information memorandum to James Warren in a week’s time.

The bench, however, did not pass any verdict on the eligibility conditions set by the Committee of Creditors (CoC) and resolution professional of Assam Co. The bench has asked the resolution professional to state the basis on which the eligibility condition for Expression of Interest (EoI) were prepared. James Warren, however, doesn’t qualify under the eligibility conditions.

The matter will be reviewed by the appellate tribunal on 3 July.

With McLeod Russel India Ltd firming up the agreements to sell its premium tea estates in Assam, Assam Co. may find it hard to find suitors. M.K. Shah and Luxmi Tea Co. Pvt. Ltd, who have agreed to buy estates from McLeod Russel, are also strong contenders for Assam Co. with both companies having submitted EoIs for the firm.

However, M.K. Shah’s chairman Himanshu Shah said that there are too many litigations regarding Assam Co. “Our business is plantation and not litigation," he added. Luxmi Tea managing director Rudra Chatterjee declined to comment on his interest in Assam Co.

The appellate tribunal said that James Warren may file the resolution plan, which will be scrutinized by the resolution professional, and if there is anything against any provision of law, it should be recorded. The resolution plan may be open only after the order of the appellate tribunal, it added.

Akhil Ruia, chief executive officer, James Warren said that it was a “positive" development for the company and that it would submit its resolution plan once it receives the information of memorandum. “It should reach us by tomorrow (Thursday) as per the order," Ruia said, adding that it will request the resolution professional and the company’s lenders to extend the deadline for submission of the resolution plan for his firm.

T. Kannan, the resolution professional of Assam Company could not be contacted for his comment.

James Warren has appointed a consultancy to do due diligence before preparing its resolution plan, Ruia said

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