RCom appeals in Bombay HC to protect lenders' interest

New Delhi: Debt-ridden telecom operator RCom on Wednesday said it has filed an appeal before the Bombay High Court to protect the interests of secured lenders after an arbitration tribunal restrained the company from sale, transfer or mortgaging of assets.

"We wish to inform you that the company has filed an appeal before the Bombay High Court to protect the interests of secured lenders," Reliance Communications (RCom) said in a BSE filing.

An arbitration tribunal in an interim order has restrained the debt-ridden company from sale, transfer or mortgaging of assets.

"...we direct that the Claimant (RCom) and its affiliates are restrained from transferring, alienating encumbrances or disposing of any of its assets without specific permission/leave of the Arbitral tribunal," the tribunal comprising Justices Swatanter Kumar, SB Sinha and VS Sirpurkar said in an order on an appeal by telecom gear maker Ericsson India.

Ericsson has sought relief from the tribunal over payments that the Anil Ambani-led RCom owes to it. Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has signed a pact to acquire mobile business assets including spectrum, mobile towers and optical fibre network of RCom- owned by his younger brother Anil Ambani.

The deal was expected to complete by March 2018 and bring relief to RCom which is reeling under a debt of over Rs 38,000 crore. The tribunal said the respondent (Ericsson) has made out an arguable case and it is of the opinion that in the event the firm will suffer "irretrievable injury" if it is denied any relief.

"Irreparable injury in the opinion of tribunal would mean substantial injury. The applicant cannot be denied a legal remedy that is available under the law," the tribunal order said.

Ericsson has submitted various claims before tribunal including Rs 1,200 crore admitted by RCom in their correspondence and Rs 1,012 crore dues which RCom allegedly failed to pay despite repeated promises, assurance and undertakings. Lenders of RCom have invoked "strategic debt restructuring" programme to recover dues from the company. 

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