SBI demands banks' dues to telecom firms be refunded

Considering that substantial funds have been lent by banks to 2G licensees, whose permits have been cancelled by the Supreme Court earlier this month, the State Bank of India, on Thursday, demanded their dues be refunded to them. It also suggested that technical infrastructure of the licensees be put under the hammer in the auction for 2G spectrum.

“Since the affected licensees have raised debt for their business plan and created security over their assets, any refunds should be routed directly in favour of the lenders, even if in some cases assignment of licenses in favour of lenders has not been completed,” SBI said in its response to the TRAI’s pre-consultation paper on allocation of 2G spectrum.

According to finance ministry’s estimates banks have an exposure of about Rs 15,800 crore to those telecom operators whose  licences have been cancelled. The total exposure of PSU banks in all these cases is Rs 14,400 crore and SBI and Canara Bank are major lenders. Of the total exposure of state-run lenders, about Rs 3,300 crore is  unsecured.

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