Dibrugarh, April 26: Assam Company India Limited (ACIL), the oldest tea company of India, is facing a state of insolvency today. Having put under the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) on October 26, 2017, in accordance with the provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Guwahati Branch, the Resolution Professional (RP) appointed by the NCLT to conduct the business of the Corporate Debtor (CD) has been able to extend the deadline for the Insolvency Resolution Process by another 90 days, that is to say, till July 23, 2018.
Established in 1839 in British India, the company had soared great heights under able leadership and management, and made a name for itself in the sphere of quality tea. Things came to a pretty pass, when during the heyday of ULFA, the company, which was then led by Satish Dhall, was made to cough up a whopping amount of more than Rs 1 crore as ransom money for his release. Even after that jolt, ACIL managed to stay afloat for quite some time under the proprietorship of Jajodia, who took over the company with the intention of regaining the lost lustre. Soon after that, the top management started diversifying the company’s incomes by investing in oil and gas fields. It also ended up by investing and buying many unproductive assets in Andhra Pradesh. Although the overall investments were backed by a good sense of judgement, they could not produce the desired results, but instead eroded the asset side of the company’s balance sheet.
Resultantly, the liabilities went on growing, and it was only a matter of time before the company went bankrupt. After the appointment of T. Kannan as the RP for this case, he had, with great difficulty, arranged interim finance and cleared the backlog of workers, ration, and staff salaries and also rendered the current dues of the employees up-to-date. With the interim finance, all 14 tea estates of the company started production for the current season. Kannan, along with his team members, also visited few of these gardens recently, and held detailed talks with the office bearers of Assam Chah Karmachari Sangha and Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha in an effort to brief them about the status of the insolvency process. In the meantime, an advertisement for expression of interest for investment opportunity in ACIL was published on April 11, 2018 to invite new promoters, if any, to revive the company which is saddled with debts.
When reached out, Kannan told The Sentinel that he believed that with enough steadfastness and prudent management, the once prestigious tea company could be put back on the right track.