Yudhishthir Khatau, labelled a wilful defaulter, has made a public announcement to list Varun Global Ltd, one of the two entities demerged from the erstwhile Varun Shipping Co Ltd, following sustained pressure from shareholders.

The announcement comes weeks after the resolution professional overseeing the bankruptcy of Varun Resources Ltd, the other demerged entity, moved an application before the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) seeking its liquidation after failing to get a resolution plan.

Separately, on April 27, the Admiralty Court attached to the Bombay High Court, auctioned six ships owned by Varun Resources to UK-based ship recycler NKD Maritime Pvt Ltd for ₹183 crore. The proceeds from the sale of ships for scrapping was used to pay wage arrears to crew and unpaid dues to the ships managers.

The shipping business of Khatau-led Varun Shipping Co Ltd, once India’s biggest liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) ship operator, was transferred to Varun Resources, while its investment and ship management business was vested in Varun Global, according to the scheme of arrangement and amalgamation approved by the Bombay High Court in 2014.

Varun Shipping was delisted on July 31, 2015, for re-listing as two separate companies — Varun Resources and Varun Global.

While the plan to re-list Varun Resources sank with the liquidation of the company under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), the announcement to re-list Varun Global, ironically, face similar hurdles.

On February 1, the Bombay High Court ordered winding up of Varun Global on a petition brought by Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) seeking to recover dues worth ₹69 crore and appointed an official liquidator to oversee the process. The High Court has since granted an interim stay on its winding up order on an application filed by Varun Global subject to the company depositing ₹5 crore along with the promoter depositing unencumbered shares worth ₹924.20 lakh.

Varun Global has deposited ₹5 crore and the promoter has assured the court on depositing the shareholding in Varun Global “immediately on completion of listing”.

Varun Global, meanwhile, has submitted a proposal for a one-time settlement to LIC to settle the dues “fully and finally”.

“LIC of India so far has not reverted or replied with regard to the proposal for a one-time settlement,” Varun Global wrote in the public announcement to list 15,00,07,773 equity shares. LIC also holds a 2.35 per cent stake in Varun Global.

With continuous losses fully eroding the net worth of Varun Global, the auditors Sorab S Engineer & Co has red flagged the company’s “ability to continue as a going concern”.

That aside, Varun Corporation Ltd, the holding company of Varun Global and 99.93 per cent owned by Khatau and his wife Neerja, was liquidated from May 18 under the IBC after it failed to secure a resolution plan, Varun Global said in the public announcement.

Varun Global is also facing a slew of legal cases from creditors such as Standard Chartered Bank, The Mauritius Commercial Bank, Fleet Ship Management and crew.

Amidst all this, shareholders are the biggest losers. “Given the circumstances, there will be hardly any value for the shares of Varun Global. So, we are seeking compensation from SEBI from its investor protection fund because the regulator did not carry out its role properly and delayed approval for the listing by three years,” said a shareholder.

The shipping industry sources said that Khatau may try to use Varun Global to claw back into the business after emerging unscathed from huge loan defaults.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News.