Unknown secret saviour comes to GOL's rescue

Vol 20, PW 10 (09 Feb 17) People & Policy

A mysterious benefactor is believed to be ready to save financially-distressed vessel and rig owner GOL Offshore from its mountain of debt.

Is the wraith-like figure that of SREI-promoted Quippo, earlier rumoured to be interested in buying the company? Nobody will say. What is clear is that GOL received a letter from its lenders led by Axis Bank on February 2 letting it know that talks with a 'strategic investor' were at an advanced stage and a deal was expected soon.

GOL in turn wrote to ONGC the same day, enclosing a copy of the Axis Bank letter which did not name this investor. GOL also asked ONGC for more time to mobilise drillbarge Badrinath, originally expected to begin its three-year contract by October 15, 2016.

GOL wants the mobilisation deadline further extended from February 15 to May 15, before the monsoon season begins in the western offshore. The joint lenders now own 52% of the company, having converted some of their unpaid loans into equity, while the rest is with promoters.

But lenders do not want to run the company's daily operations which is why they wanted to bring in a strategic investor. GOL's Rs1500cr ($223m) debt has been bought over by the strategic investor which has also taken the 52% held by lenders: worth about Rs300cr ($45m) plus a premium.