Provident funds likely to face crores of losses due to IL&FS failure

IL&FS-agenciesProvident and pension funds of thousands of middle-class salaried people face the spectre of losing thousands of crores of their nest egg as analysts estimate these funds investments in Infrastructure Leasing  Financial Services and group companies to be between Rs. 15,000 to Rs 20,000 crore, said three people familiar with the matter.
Many of these funds handling the retirement funds are owning either bonds or given money as loans to the failed infrastructure lender amid hopes that the triple A rated paper would be safe and was fetching higher returns, said those people who did not want to be identified.

While there are no precise numbers available due to the very opaque nature of these funds, experts say that the amount could be as high as Rs. 20,000 crores after providing for holdings by others such as banks, mutual funds and other wealth management schemes.

analysts project various scenarios and estimate that lenders may have to take haircuts ranging from Rs 11,300 crore to Rs 28,500 crore.

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"Provident funds are now estimated to be holding 40% of total bond IL  FS group outstanding, said an investment banker who had sold many such bonds. He preferred to be anonymous.

ILFS declined to comment on the matter. 

The moratorium granted by the National Company Law Tribunal on payments by IL  FS to creditors has thrown the market into disarray. While there is little resolution in sight, even some of the companies generating cash have stalled payments to lenders. In this, it is not clear how pension funds would account for their losses.

As per IBC guidance, bond holders are expected to be financial creditors with equal right,said Dhaivat Anjaria, a distressed assets specialist.However, if those debt securities are unsecured vis-vis the banks, their claims could be subordinate to other secured lenders including banks.

Privately managed retirement funds may be running a bigger risk as these firms have to make good any losses as per the condition laid out by Employee Provident Fund Organisation wherever it permitted such funds management.

;Unlike banks provident funds need to provide for investment losses every quarter,said Amit Gopal, senior vice-president, India Life Capital, which advises many standalone provident funds.While some large companies have already started providing for their losses, the rest is waiting for more clarity on the ILFS cases.

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