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Bengal minister becomes HPL chairman

West Bengal,Business/Economy,Politics, Tue, 27 Mar 2012 IANS

Kolkata, March 27 (IANS) West Bengal Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee was Tuesday inducted as chairman of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) at a board meeting where it was decided to convert Rs.128-crore debt of the cash-starved company into equity to improve its financial health.


The conversion of debt into equity may help the company, which eroded a major part of its peak net worth of Rs.2,844 crore this fiscal, avoid reporting to BIFR.


But the ownership issue of HPL, the second largest maker of polyethylene in India and co-promoted by the state government and The Chatterjee Group (TCG), is yet to be resolved.


The company is currently facing acute financial crisis, and observers fear that it would clock the biggest ever loss in the current fiscal.


"I have been elected chairman of HPL," the minister told reporters. "Work should be done to secure interests of all stakeholders," he added.


The government had earlier proposed Partha Chatterjee's name as its nominee in the HPL board.


"His induction will boost the confidence of workers," Managing Director of HPL Partha Bhattacharyya told reporters.


Bhattacharyya said it was decided at the meeting to convert Rs.128 debt of the company into equity.


HPL is a modern naphtha-based petrochemical complex located 125 km from Kolkata, at Haldia in West Bengal's East Midnapore district.


The Supreme Court last year had dismissed the petition filed by The TCG against the decision of the Calcutta High Court allowing the state government to retain 155 million shares in HPL.


The ownership battle between the principal shareholders of HPL - the West Bengal government and Purnendu Chatterjee - dates back to 2005 when the Left Front was in power.


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