ICICI Bank assumes 29.3-% stake in debt-laden GTL

ICICI Bank, the country's largest private sector lender, has taken a 29.3-per cent stake in debt-laden telecom network services provider GTL Ltd by taking over shares pledged by its promoter, according to a stock exchange filing.

ICICI had recovered about Rs194 crore, going by prices on Thursday, when GTL's stock ended at Rs68.2 on the BSE. GTL owes about Rs500 crore to the bank.

GTL said in a recent stock exchange filing that its promoter, Global Holding Corporation (GHC), had pledged 99.1 per cent of its 52-per cent stake in the company to various lenders. The company's founder and chairman Manoj Tirodkar holds his stake in the company through GHC.

GTL and another group company, GTL Infrastructure Ltd, are embroiled in a debt restructuring exercise with 25 lenders. GTL has debts of about Rs6,000 crore and GTL Infrastructure has debts of about Rs11,000 crore.

In June, GTL and GTL Infrastructure (a telecom tower company) appointed SBI Capital Markets to assess their financial situation and obligations, following a battering of their stock prices (See: GTL, GTL Infra appoint SBI Capital Markets for fire-fighting)

With this, promoters have become minority stakeholders in their own company, with about 23-per cent stake in GTL, and ICICI Bank becoming the largest shareholder. However, it was not clear whether ICICI Bank will look at selling off the stake to recover its debt or hold the stake in the telecom services provider.