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Aircel employees yet to be paid Feb salary

Nearly 4,000 employees of debt-laden Aircel are yet to get their February salary, while the operator has also defaulted on payments to distributors. The company is also not sure on how to run the network as certain lenders have encashed its bank guarantees.

The encashment was despite an earlier Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) ruling that barred the lenders from encashing bank guarantees. Aircel, which had about ₹100 crore in its Trust and Retention Account (TRA) earmarked for salaries and other operational purposes, did not get any pie from the account since February 1, several sources told BusinessLine.

“As on March 13, employees’ salaries have not been paid as the company did not get any money from TRA. This has caused a lot of anxiety to employees, distributors and others,” one of the sources said.

The bank guarantees, submitted for Department of Telecommunications purposes, were encashed by the department following the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) filing on February 28. Two other lenders — State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank (PNB) – also encashed demand drafts provided by Aircel.

Aircel had provided bank guarantees worth a total of ₹1,000 crore to various lenders.

“This an immediate problem and the company is looking at various ways of raising funds, including an interim funding. The employees are upset,” another source said.

Aircel to move Tribunal

Aircel will now move TDSAT seeking the lenders to refund TRA amount till NCLT concludes its hearing as further fund-raising is difficult till a clarity on the NCLT filings emerge, sources added.

Beleaguered telecom service provider Aircel had earlier filed for bankruptcy protection with NCLT’s Mumbai bench, after its Malaysian promoter Maxis Communications decided against pumping additional funds into the company. The filing, which is a process to find best possible resolution for the current situation, was accepted by the tribunal. NCLT is expected to name an Insolvency Resolution Professional this week, sources added.

The sources declined to be identified as the matter is private, while an email sent to Aircel was unanswered.

Source: The Hindu