Vedanta outbids JSPL for Athena

Industry:    2 weeks ago

Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta has emerged as the highest bidder for bankrupt Athena Chhattisgarh Power Ltd, outbidding Naveen Jindal’s Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) in an auction process that ran for 28 hours, two people aware of the development told ET.

Resources conglomerate Vedanta’s final offer of ₹565 crore was much higher than the staggered payment of ₹400 crore it had offered under the corporate insolvency and resolution process (CIRP). The auction process, which started on the morning of May 6, ended the next day, the people said.

The Hyderabad National Company Law Tribunal ordered the liquidation of the thermal power project in May 2021 after the requisite majority of lenders rejected a plan submitted by Vedanta Ltd offering staggered payment of ₹400 crore over a period of five years. The tribunal has ordered the sale of the thermal company as an ongoing process.

RBSA Advisors, which acted as transaction advisors to the resolution professional (RP), declined to comment. Vedanta and JSPL did not respond to ET’s request for comments.

Vedanta’s bid of ₹565 crore is 16% higher than the ₹485.3 crore reserve price set for the auction. The auction process of the Athena Chhattisgarh Power started in December 2021 with a reserve price of Rs 1,503 crore, as per the first auction notice. However, since the liquidator did not receive any bids in the initial rounds, it was lowered with every successive auction.

The liquidator Kumar Rajan, backed by RBSA, has admitted claims of ₹12,049 crore from secured lenders, employees, the state, and traders.

Vedanta Outbids JSPL for Athena

Both Vedanta and JSPL were eyeing Athena Chhattisgarh for captive purposes given the shortage of power supply.

“The acquisition of this stressed power plant shall augur well for the revival of private sector interest in the power sector, which has been plagued with challenges including discom stress, availability of coal and lower power tariffs,” said Mitali Shah, managing director of RBSA Advisors.

The partially completed thermal power plant has two units of 600 MW each. The coal requirement, estimated at 5.26 MTPA, would be procured from nearby coal blocks – Fatehpur East Block – SECL mines, said people aware of the development.

ACPL is a special purpose vehicle (SPV), promoted by Athena Energy Ventures (AEVPL) – a joint venture among Athena Projects Private Limited, PTC India and Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC).

After the company defaulted, lenders acquired 51% into the company by converting a part of the debt into equity.