Debt levels should be seen in context of business growth: Mistry

Mumbai, Sep 13 (IANS) Tata Sons’ Chairman Cyrus P. Mistry has said that debt levels of some of the group companies should be seen in the context of business growth, increasing cash from operations, and capital projects underway which will lead to future growth.

Mistry said this during an interview with Tata Group’s online platform — tata.com. The interview was published on Tuesday.

When asked about the significant debt levels of some of the group companies, Mistry replied: “This has to be seen in the context of business growth, increasing cash from operations, and capital projects underway which will lead to future growth.”

“As the group has been growing significantly in the past, the total capital employed has also grown. Proportionately, there has been increase in debt.”

According to the Tata Sons’ Chairman, over the last three years, the gross debt across the group has increased by about two per cent per annum in US dollar terms, while cash and equivalents have grown at over 10 per cent, leading to a reduction of 3.3 per cent in net debt in the same period.

“This excludes our financial services businesses, where debt is integral to the product offering and, hence, their model is different from other businesses,” Mistry elaborated.

“As of March 2016, the group had a net debt of about $24.5 billion. Capex has been on average $9 billion in each of the last three years. In the financial year 2016, cash from operations reached $9 billion a year and exceeded the capex.”

Mistry further said: “At the group level, therefore, the aggregate debt is not something I feel concerned about.”

“In fact, such aggregations at the group level could mislead, as the companies which have high cash generation, capex and debt are not all necessarily the same, and resources of different companies are not fungible with one another, as they are distinct legal entities with different shareholders.”

“Of course, for a more meaningful discussion, these numbers would require to be viewed at each company’s level.”

–IANS

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