A little over a week after the death of Café Coffee Day founder V.G. Siddhartha, the board of Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd (CDEL), the holding company of Coffee Day group firms, decided on Thursday to sell the group’s 90-acre technology park in Bengaluru to reduce CDEL’s debt burden.
Two people with direct knowledge of CDEL’s board discussions confirmed this, adding that New York-based private equity giant Blackstone Group is one of the top contenders to buy the Global Village Park, which is owned by Tanglin Developments Ltd, a unit of CDEL.
Blackstone has in the past week resumed talks to buy Tanglin Developments, said two separate people directly familiar with the deal on the condition of anonymity. A spokesperson for Blackstone declined to comment.
The CDEL board met on Thursday to deliberate on three key issues—a potential sale of Coffee Day group assets to pare debt; ways to ensure smooth continuation of CDEL’s businesses after Siddhartha’s death; and to appoint a forensic audit firm to verify the authenticity of the letter purportedly written by Siddhartha before his untimely death on 29 July.
The board meeting was originally scheduled to consider CDEL’s financial results for the June quarter. However, on 2 August, CDEL said that due to certain unavoidable circumstances, the board will not consider the financial results for the quarter ended 30 June in the 8 August board meeting.
“The financial results announcement will be delayed further. The board will announce a new date soon," said one of the two people cited initially.
The board’s Thursday move is somewhat inexplicable in light of Siddhartha postponing his original plans to sell the technology park after the successful sale of his 20.32% holding in Mindtree to engineering conglomerate Larsen and Toubro Ltd for ₹3,200 crore.
Following the board meeting, CDEL appointed EY to investigate into the circumstances leading to statements made in the letter purportedly written by Siddhartha, and to scrutinize the books of accounts of the company and its subsidiaries, said a stock exchange filing by the firm.
CDEL said in order to ensure that the company continues to have a strategic direction and a suitable way forward, a person of eminence or a reputed firm will soon be appointed as strategic corporate adviser.
Malavika Hegde, the widow of Siddhartha, has been appointed as an additional member of the executive committee formed by CDEL on 31 July to carry out CEO-level responsibilities and “explore opportunities to deleverage the Coffee Day Group".
Mint first reported on On 1 August that CDEL was planning to selectively sell assets of the Siddhartha-founded company to pare debt incurred by the group’s 52 units.
“The board has given its in-principle approval for the sale of IT park in Bangalore. Blackstone could be one of the potential buyers. The board is in favour of monetizing the assets of CDEL and its subsidiaries, which will begin with the sale of the IT park," said the first person after the board meeting on Thursday.
As on 31 March, CDEL— whose main subsidiaries include Coffee Day Global Ltd (coffee business), Sical Logistics Ltd (integrated logistics), Tanglin Developments Ltd (realty), Way2Wealth (financial services) and Coffee Day Hotels and Resorts Ltd (hospitality)—had debt obligations of at least ₹7,653 crore.
Consolidated borrowings of all CDEL subsidiaries together (bank loans and NCDs) worked out to ₹6,547.38 crore as on 31 March, of which short-term debt obligations were at ₹1,106 crore. On a standalone basis, CDEL’s borrowings were only around ₹350 crore, while its subsidiary Coffee Day Global alone had debt obligations of ₹879.67 crore as on 31 March, according to the balance sheet filed by the company. CDEL’s total assets were worth around ₹11,259 crore.