Mumbai: Lenders led by the State Bank of India (SBI) are seeking dispensation from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to restructure the debt of VOVL, formerly known as Videocon Oil Ventures Ltd, according to three people aware of the matter. VOVL is one of the 32 NPA accounts falling under the purview of the Reserve Bank of India’s 12 February circular, which asked banks to put in place a resolution plan within 180 days of the first default.
The 180-day period for all loans defaulted as on 1 March ended on Monday.
RBI has directed banks, who have failed to resolve these NPA accounts within the time period, to refer these cases to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for initiating bankruptcy proceedings.
“VOVL is currently classified as a non-performing asset with all banks as it has failed to commence commercial operations," said a senior official with a public sector bank.
As per RBI guidelines, loans given to infrastructure projects will be classified as non-performing assets (NPAs) if they fail to commence commercial operations within two years from the original date.
The Videocon Group, in an earlier interaction with Mint, had said that it has extended a deadline to start production from its oil and gas fields because of a fall in oil prices.
The company along with its consortium partners had plans to begin production from its fields in Brazil and Indonesia by 2019, which has now been postponed to 2021.
“Lenders are looking to give more time to the company to repay their outstanding dues and also give additional funding for maintenance of the project," said the bankers mentioned earlier.
“We want to avoid taking the company to National Company Law Tribunal as it could lead to cancellation of the contract with its Brazilian partner," they added.
VOVL, which was founded in 2011, is engaged in extraction of oil and gas through its subsidiaries incorporated across the globe.
VOVL holds shares in Videocon Hydrocarbon Holdings Ltd, a Cayman Islands company that was set up in 2009 for its international oil and gas assets in Brazil, Indonesia, and East Timor.
The company has interests in the four major blocks in Brazil through an equal joint venture, IBV Brasil Petroleo Ltd, with India’s Bharat PetroResource Ltd. Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobras SA, is the operator in three of the four blocks.
So far the Videocon Group has invested around $2 billion in these fields, along with its consortium partners.
A 9 March Mint report had said that Videocon Group was looking to raise ₹ 30,000 crore by selling its stake in oil blocks in Brazil, as part of the company’s debt reduction plan.
According to the RoC (registrar of companies) filings, VOVL’s total debt stood at ₹ 1,189.40 crore as of 31 March 2016.
This is part of the consolidated debt of Videocon Group, which stood at ₹ 44,000 crore as of July 2017.
Videocon has borrowed ₹ 22,000 crore for its Indian businesses and ₹ 22,000 crore from international entities for the oil and gas business.
Last year, SBI had filed insolvency proceedings against Videocon Industries Ltd and Videocon Telecommunications Ltd, which were both part of the second list of large corporate defaulters identified by RBI for being referred to the NCLT.