The provident and pension fund trusts that invested in the IL&FS bonds now fear a loss of money as the debt-ridden company`s bonds are unsecured debt, and the Finance Ministry says superannuated bonds do not carry any government guarantee and all such instruments have to face all market-related risks.
“Since these are investments in bonds, the government does not ensure any guarantee on them as such and if these are invested in stock markets, they carry the market risks as applicable. It is between the bond issuer and bondholders…,” the Finance Ministry said in response to IANS queries.
Thousands of crores of money of more than 15 lakh employees of both public and private sector companies have exposure to IL&FS bonds.
However, queries sent to the EPFO Commissioner and Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar remained unanswered.
Over 50 funds that manage retirement benefits of over 15 lakh employees have exposure to IL&FS. PF trusts of state electricity boards, public sector undertakings (PSUs) and banks are among them. The provident and pension fund trusts have filed intervening applications in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) stating that they stand to lose all the money since the bonds are under unsecured debt.
Usually, retirement funds have a low-risk appetite and invest in “AAA” rated bonds (which IL&FS bonds used to be once upon a time) and get assured returns with low-interest rates.
The worries of pension and provident fund trusts come from the classification of IL&FS profiling its companies as to which can meet the dues obligations. Many important trust managing funds of PSUs like MMTC, IOC, Hudco, SBI and IDBI are among those filing petitions. From the private sector, HUL and Asian Paints are among the petitioners.
IL&FS is currently under resolution process at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The process will decide under Section 53 of the IBC the order of priority for distribution of proceeds of the process.
The beleaguered company has informed the NCLT that of the 302 entities in the group, 169 are Indian companies, out of which only 22 are emerging as those which can meet all obligations (green), while 10 firms can pay to only secured creditors (Amber). There are 38 companies of IL&FS (red) which cannot meet any obligations of payment, and 120 entities are still being assessed.
These PF and provident funds trusts are worried that if payment is limited to secured creditors, then only financial creditors like banks will receive the dues while unsecured bond-holders will get any payments.
IL&FS bonds attracted investments by PF trusts as it had the shareholding of SBI and LIC giving its bonds the comfort factor.
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