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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Thursday, 06 May 2010 11:21

Despite Respite Indage Faces Rough Weather

Debt-ridden Indage Vintners got a respite from the High Court by getting an extension on the stay against the winding up proceedings till June 15 last week and should be able to get the order rescinded eventually after satisfying the Court that the proposed restructuring would be acceptable to the creditors, but it will still face insurmountable difficulties in regaining the top spot.

In the course of arguments last Thursday, Indage promised the court that the promoters- Chougule family, will infuse Rs 7.5 million of fresh capital into the beleaguered company as part of the corporate debt restructuring (CDR) scheme. The corporate debt restructuring cell had already approved the company’s proposal to restructure loans on Wednesday.

Ranjit Chougule, MD says that the company will file a petition under section 391 of the Companies Act, 1956 by next month by June to compromise and restructure debts. Reportedly most banks including ICICI Bank and SBI have approved the package though a few unsecured creditors still oppose the CDR proposal. However, if the compromise scheme is approved by 75% lenders, the package will be binding on all the creditors. The unsecured creditors include Sublime Agro and Kotak Mahindra Bank who wanted the company to be liquidated so as to recover dues.

Restructuring has come as no surprise to the industry watchers; the rumours had been doing the rounds even before the winding up petition was filed by the creditors. In a personal mail to Subhash Arora, editor of delWine, Ranjit Chougule, had written on March 25th after the winding up petition had been filed and admitted by the court (it was reported by delWine), ‘we are also filing an appeal and will be completing the CDR process end of this month. Promoters are also injecting funds under the CDR scheme so business will be normalized in a few months.’

Later, delWine learnt from the sources in the financial circles that the corporate debt restructuring (CDR) package of Indage Vintners had indeed been approved. Secured and unsecured lenders had consented to Indage Vintners CDR package. Only one lender did not vote for Indage Vintners' CDR.

Sources say that the total debt obligations of the company have been deferred by approximately two years. The promoters of Indage Vintners are to bring in Rs 7.5 million to Rs.1 Billion even if they have to sell their personal property to bring in capital. The total debt of Indage Vintners stands at Rs 4 billion under the CDR scheme.

However, the marketing and human resource problems the company faces are quite insurmountable and will need sincere and full-time efforts from the company management and especially its chairman, Sham Chougule who is considered the patriarch of the Indian wine industry and often compared with Robert Mondavi who unfortunately had to also sell off his company to Constellation due to financial difficulties. He has been well respected by the contract farmers and the employees. However, the company has reneged so much on their promises during the last few years that Mr Chougule will have a tough time in re-establishing his credibility.

The supplier confidence is low, there is no product to sell really. Producing wine is not like manufacturing cars that after a long strike, pressing a button will create the buzz. The marketing network has been weakened. The wine stocks that they claim to have in their ‘accounting books’ may not be drinkable or in any case, beyond their peak performance.

The employees who have not been paid, some reportedly for 2 years have been totally de-motivated and openly bad-mouth the company, many of them sitting on the competitors’ desks. Fortunately, the charismatic Sham Chougule draws personal loyalty from them and though a formidable task, ought to manage with persuasion and clearing their long term dues.

Another problem would be that the market share has been gobbled up by the likes of Sula and Grover. From the Pole position, the company has been pushed to the back and will need several laps to get back into the race- being the first to cross the chequered flag may be years away, with Indage hoping that the current champion Sula with Rajeev Samant at the driver’s seat may make some accidental mistake or tactical blunders like their. own to let them pass.


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