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Indian wind giant Suzlon in $172m bond default

Talks over investment by Canada's Brookfield reportedly crucial to easing pressure on OEM

Indian wind giant Suzlon defaulted on a $172m bond repayment as the heavily indebted group continues talks to ease the financial pressures on it – with a potential investment by Canada's Brookfield widely reported to be key to its hopes.

Suzlon confirmed to the Mumbai Stock Exchange that it has missed Tuesday’s deadline for a repayment on the foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs).

“The company is working on holistic solution[s] for its debt and continues to be in discussions with various stakeholders in relation to its outstanding debt (including the bonds),” Suzlon told investors.

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Suzlon is widely reported in the Indian media to be involved in advanced talks with Brookfield over an investment in the group to acquire a majority stake. Neither Brookfield or Suzlon has commented on the reports, which follow an earlier reported offer by wind OEM Vestas to take control of Suzlon that broke down over valuation.

Suzlon’s shares were running more than 4% lower in Mumbai in late afternoon trading, and at 4.60 rupees are well down on a high of more than 28 rupees seen in 2015.

For Suzlon the default has unhappy echoes of 2012, when it was forced into a massive financial restructuring exercise in the face of debt and market pressures.

Suzlon posted a 15.3bn rupees ($220m) net loss for the latest financial year and its total debts stood at 111bn rupees at the end of May 2019.

Suzlon insists it is ideally placed to benefit from an impending boom in the Indian wind market as the country pursues its ambitious renewable energy targets. Its latest full-year results cited a third year of market share gains and a 1.3GW order book that’s “among the largest in the Indian wind industry”.

However, the group also cited a string of challenges in the Indian market – including land acquisition, delays to wind auctions and PPA approvals, and grid and military issues.

Suzlon’s debt was downgraded in April by Indian financial ratings CARE, which noted the company’s “stretched liquidity position”. It added: “This has been on account of impaired volumes resulting from wind industry’s transitionary phase and delay in monetisation of assets.”

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