Kolkata: The race for Assam Co. India Ltd (ACIL), the country’s oldest surviving and once the most prized tea producer, has narrowed down to four contenders.

A dozen companies had submitted so-called expressions of interest (EoI). On Thursday, only James Warren Tea Ltd, Dhunseri Petrochem Ltd, BRS Ventures Investments Ltd owned by Abu Dhabi-based entrepreneur Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty, and Suraksha Asset Reconstruction Pvt. Ltd submitted price bids, said two people familiar with the development, requesting anonymity.

The bids for the delinquent company undergoing insolvency resolution under the watch of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) are expected to be opened within a week’s time.

When contacted, Assam Co. India’s resolution professional T. Kannan declined to comment.

Several enterprises with interest in plantations, such as the Apeejay Surrendra Group, Luxmi Tea Co. Ltd and M.K. Shah Exports Ltd, had shown interest, but most of them backed out because of the ongoing court cases, and the lack of clarity on how the claims against the company, and its erstwhile promoters, were to be eventually settled.

Assam Co. has 14 estates and produces around 10 million kg of tea every year. It has a total debt of 1,453 crore, according to court filings.

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