SBI set to offer Rs 5000 crore loan to Adani coal project in Australia: Report

New Delhi (IANS) The State Bank of India is set to offer a Rs 5,000-crore loan to Adani Enterprises Ltd’s Australian mining company, now renamed Bravus Mining & Resources, as per media reports.

As per media reports, the loan agreement between SBI and Adani Group is nearly done and a ratification is expected from the bank’s executive committee soon.

This could mark the resurgence of on earlier controversy. SBI and Adani had entered into a memorandum of understanding in 2014 for a $1-billion loan. The loan was not executed after it became a political controversy.

Opposition parties had questioned the loan agreement at a time when the mining project was mired in controversy.

The Opposition had pointed out that five leading global banks – Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays – had declined to fund the project citing a decline in coal mining in Australia.

SBI had then walked back on the loan agreement stating that it was only an MoU and no money had been lent to the company.

Media reports quoted sources as saying that six years later, there is a better understanding on the future of the project.

“Much water has flowed in the last 5-6 years. The concerns raised in 2014 are no longer there.

“Most of the local regulatory approvals are in place and the company is expected to start producing coal from 2021 onward,” said a source close to the development, the reports said.

Financial Times had earlier reported that the Adani Group’s total outstanding debt came to more than $30 billion as of November 11, according to data from Dealogic, including $7.8 billion worth of bonds and $ 22.3 billion in loans. High debt is nothing new among Indian conglomerates but the Adani Group’s rapid expansion has raised concern.

Credit Suisse warned in a 2015 “House of Debt” report that the Adani Group was one of 10 conglomerates under “severe stress” that accounted for 12 per cent of banking sector loans. Yet the Adani Group has been able to keep raising funds, in part by borrowing from overseas lenders and pivoting to green energy, the Financial Times said.

The report said the group continues to enjoy ample access to capital, both at home and overseas, and can tell investors that it has never defaulted on a loan despite highly leveraged balance sheets. Adani Group companies tapped international debt markets with bond sales of more than $2bn and Adani Gas sold a 37.4 per cent stake to Total for a reported $600m, which gave it ample cash flow to weather the shock of the pandemic when it hit.

And international groups are queueing up to partner with the group. Earlier this month, Adani announced a strategic collaboration in hydrogen and biogas with Italian gas and infrastructure group Snam.

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