AI lenders approve Rs 18,000 crore debt restructuring plan

Lenders of cash-strapped Air India today approved its corporate debt restructuring plan worth Rs 18,000 crore and decided to provide a fresh cash credit of Rs 2,200 crore.

Of the Rs 18,000 crore debt restructuring plan, Rs 7,400 crore worth of non-convertible debentures, guaranteed by the government, would be issued, banking sources said here.

They said the 13-bank consortium, led by State Bank of India, has also agreed to give Rs 2,200 crore worth of fresh working capital loan to the ailing national carrier.
The approval by the banks came ten days after a Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, decided to allow Air India to raise Rs 7,400 crore by issuing sovereign guaranteed non-convertible debentures.

The debentures are likely to carry a coupon rate of 8.5-9 per cent and financial institutions may subscribe to these bonds, official sources said. This would be part of the national carrier's financial restructuring plan that was also approved by the GoM on February seven.

However, the bonds issue would have to be cleared by the Union Cabinet, they said.
Official figures show the debt-ridden carrier has outstanding loans and dues worth Rs 67,520 crore, of which Rs 21,200 crore is working capital loan, Rs 22,000 crore is long -term loan on fleet acquisition, Rs 4,600 crore is vendor dues besides an accumulated loss of Rs 20,320 crore.

Banks and financial institutions had proposed several measures to beef up Air India's net worth and these were among the measures approved by the GoM, the sources said.

Air India's debt restructuring plan had hit a hurdle after the banks had refused to convert a part of the short- term debt into equity.As per the earlier plan, the banks were to restructure a debt of Rs 18,000 crore, of which around Rs 10,500 crore would have had to be converted into long-term loan with a repayment period of 10-15 years and the rest was to be converted into equity by banks.

The banks had then raised objections to this and rejected the plan.
This situation had prompted the GoM to permit Air India to raise resources through bonds or non-convertible debentures, the sources said.

Besides permitting Air India to raise funds through the debenture route, the government is also likely to soon take a decision on infusing additional equity of about Rs 6,600 crore, they said.

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