Asset sales better for resolving bankruptcy faster: Liberty chief

SYDNEY: Liberty House founder and chairman Sanjeev Gupta said the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) should focus on asset sales rather than selling down companies to speed up the resolution process.

The India-born steel baron’s comments at the India Business Summit in Sydney assume significance after his $15-billion group delayed closure of two bankruptcy acquisitions — Adhunik Metalinks and Amtek Auto — in recent weeks. Some Indian lenders have alleged that Liberty House reneged on commitments after missing payment deadlines to banks.

“We are committed to the deals. I will be formally clarifying on this very soon. We are in conversations with the committee of creditors to solve issues,”

Gupta later told TOI on the sidelines of the summit here. He pointed out that Liberty House has struck 52 transactions successfully around the world.

He clarified that his statement about bankruptcy law should drive asset sales rather than selling down entire companies was not in the context of Amtek Auto and Adhunik. “It was a suggestion in reference to future deals,” Gupta said.

He hinted at some vested interests against the group at the ground level in India, but refrained from naming them. “We would like to sort it out between the creditors and the acquirer, or resolve it though the courts, which will take longer,” he added. Gupta said he would wait for clarity on the deals before looking at more transactions in Indian bankruptcy courts.

Speaking at the summit, Gupta lauded the recent Indian economic reforms but added that “patience and perseverance” were required to build business in India. The opportunities there are real but I don’t want it to be oversold either, he added.

(The writer was in Sydney at the invitation of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia)

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