NCLT to appoint RP for Anil Ambani assets on SBI plea

The dedicated bankruptcy court has decided to appoint an interim resolution professional (IRP) in a case filed by lender State Bank of India (SBI) against Anil Ambani.

State Bank of India (SBI) had moved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in Mumbai to recover over Rs 1,200 crore from Anil Ambani under the personal guarantee clause of the bankruptcy law. The lender said Ambani had personally guaranteed loans taken by Reliance Communications, currently undergoing insolvency proceedings, which the state-owned lender is trying to recover.

A representative for Anil Ambani and SBI did not respond to an email query.

“Now within 10 days, IBBI will nominate the resolution professional who will be appointed by the NCLT as professional. On appointment, within the next 10 days, he will examine the application and submit his report stating the reasons for approval or rejection of the application,” said Ashish Pyasi Associate Partner Dhir & Dhir Associates. “This is different from corporate insolvency process and professional may recommend rejection which will be decided by the NCLT.”

The Mumbai bench of the NCLT was hearing a plea filed by SBI, where the lender is seeking tribunal’s intervention under Section 97(3) of the IBC to direct the insolvency board to nominate a resolution professional (RP) to assess and submit a report on the assets owned by Ambani.

Under the IBC, in the cases related to a personal guarantee, the lenders have to approach the tribunal to appoint an IRP for the assessment of the assets of the individual. Later, NCLT has to write to the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) to recommend the panels of names and the NCLT then has to choose one name from them.

When the debtor or the creditor files a case in the tribunal, the NCLT then directs the board, within seven days of the filing of such application, to nominate a resolution professional for the insolvency resolution process.

Earlier, on June 30, a division bench of a judicial member Mohammed Ajmal and a technical member Ravikumar Duraisamy had reserved its order after hearing both the sides.

Senior counsel Venkatesh Dhond along with Nirav Shah and Ryan Dsouza of DSK Legal representing SBI, while Anil Ambani is represented by senior advocate Harish Salve.

RCom filed for bankruptcy last year after which its secured debt was estimated at around Rs 33,000 crore while lenders submitted claims of around Rs 49,000 crore in August 2019.

Recently, in March the SBI board had approved a resolution plan for Reliance Communications in March that envisaged lenders recovering around Rs 23,000 crore of their money, entailing a haircut of nearly 50%. RCom owes nearly Rs 5,000 crore to SBI.

The lenders of Reliance Communications (RCom) and Reliance Infratel (RITL) have already approved the resolution plans with 100% voting in March 2020 and have been put for the approval for Mumbai NCLT.