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Published on 18/01/2020 8:54:55 AM | Source: IANS

Banks` risk on Rs 1.5 lakh cr lent to telcos up after SC ruling

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The risk for Indian banks on their loans to the telecom sector appear to have risen a notch higher for both public and private sector lenders who have a combined exposure of Rs 1.51 lakh crore, following the Supreme Court rejecting the review petition of the three incumbent telcos.

The apex court has mandated that Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices pay nearly Rs 1.02 lakh crore as a statutory payments to the government by January 23.

According to banking sources, state-run State Bank of India (Rs 42,400 crore), HDFC Bank (Rs 24,500 crore), Axis Bank (16,600 crore), Bank of Baroda (Rs 14,400 crore) , Indusind Bank (Rs 8800 crore), Canara Bank (Rs 6,100 crore) and Punjab National Bank (Rs 8,400 crore) have high exposures to the telecom sector.

These debts, however, are not classed as non-performing assets (NPAs or bad loans).

Banks don't reveal client specific information and queries sent to them on their loans disbursed to the telecom sector did not elicit any response.

The Union Bank of India which has loaned Rs 15,200 crore to the sector said it does not have any outstanding on account of Airtel or Vodafone Idea. Bank CMD Raj Kiran Rai its exposure is among the public sector undertakings (PSUs) and not in the privately-run Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

Kotak Mahindra Bank and Federal Bank have Rs 4,700 crore and Rs 1,600 crore exposure to the telecom sector, while RBL Bank has lent the telcos Rs 500 crore

There are other telecom companies who have to pay dues to the Department of Telecom but are defunct now or have been acquired.

The Aircel group of companies, S Tel, Videocon Loop Telecom and Etisalat are among the companies who owe dues, but are not operating now.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal by mobile operators to review its order to pay $13 billion, or Rs 92,000 crore, they owe to the government.

The apex court's dismissal has raised risks for the lenders to these companies, according to the UBS Group AG.