Aurobindo Pharma, Cadila, 3 others in race to acquire Sterling Biotech

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Aurobindo Pharma, Cadila Healthcare, UPL and two other companies are in the fray to acquire bankrupt Sterling Biotech Ltd. through the liquidation process. The other two companies in the race are ACG Associated Capsules and Gland Celsus Bio Chemicals.

Last month, the liquidator had invited bids for the liquidation process of Sterling Biotech to sell it as a going concern at a reserve price of Rs 548.46 crore.

Lovkesh Batra, a member of the Mamta Binani-led liquidation team told The Economic Times that the shortlist of entities looking to acquire the world’s sixth-largest manufacturer of pharmaceutical gelatin has been pared from about a dozen aspirants.

“The qualified bidders will have a time of 15 days beginning from August 23 to inspect the Sterling Biotech, and the auction will be conducted on September 9, 2021,” a person familiar with the matter told the daily.

Sterling Biotech and its subsidiaries – Sterling SEZ and Sterling International – collectively owe Rs 15,000 crore to operational and financial creditors. “Even when the company is facing liquidation, it has retained its licences and approvals, and there are about 1,000 people on its rolls,” they added.

Sterling Biotech has its manufacturing units located in Vadodara, Karakhadi and Masar in Gujarat and one in Ooty, Tamil Nadu. The firm’s consolidated revenue for FY20 and FY21 stood at Rs 345.69 crore and Rs 347.44 crore, respectively. The gelatin manufacturer is promoted by Chetan and Nitin Sandesara.

The Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admitted the firm under the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) following a plea filed by Andhra Bank on June 11, 2018. The tribunal had ordered the liquidation of the firm as a going concern in May 2019.

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The Sandesara brothers have reportedly fled the country and are suspected of staying in Africa. In June 2020, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had attached properties worth Rs 9,700 crore belonging to the Sandesaras.