The Windman of India is no more

Tulsi Tanti was among the first Indian businessmen to see the clean energy shift coming. He founded Suzlon Group in 1995 to manufacture turbines when the market was dominated by global peers. A former textile trader, Tanti also had global ambitions.

In the decade to 2005, he slowly made Suzlon a brand. And then came the blockbuster slate of 2005, propelling Tanti into billionaire league, earning him the nickname “India’s Windman”.

Tanti died after cardiac arrest on Saturday. He was 64 years old.

He complained of chest pains in his car in Pune after returning from a press conference in Ahmedabad, close friend Manu Pambhar told BQ Prime. He asked the driver to take him to hospital, but he died before he received medical help, Pambhar said.

He is survived by his wife Gita, his son Pranav and his daughter Nidhi.

Tanti was an iconic figure and the first to represent India’s green goals on global platforms, according to Ashish Khanna, head of renewable energy at Tata Power Ltd. was always outspoken in his opinion on how to be Atmanirbhar in the making”.

At its peak, Suzlon’s stock traded at Rs 460. It now has an installed capacity of over 19.4 GW in 17 countries. The shares, however, closed on Friday at Rs 8.7 each. A legacy of the excesses of the boom years.

Suzlon’s global expansion has been fueled by debt. This included leveraged buyouts of Belgian company Hansen Transmissions in 2006 for $431 million; then German RePower Systems (now called Senvion) ​​for over $2.1 billion in 2007.

The first signs of trouble appeared in 2008. The blades of some of Suzlon’s windmills cracked, forcing it to embark on an expensive refurbishment programme.

The same year, the company raised $500 million in overseas debt to fund its expansion. But as global asset values ​​plummeted during the global meltdown, it had to take a mark-to-market loss on bonds in 2009 and recognize an exceptional loss.

Refinancing did not help, and as demand failed to pick up from the lows of the downturn, Suzlon defaulted on foreign bonds in 2012. The company sold assets, including Hansen and RePower, but this did not has not reduced the debt significantly.

Suzlon asked for help under the former corporate debt restructuring. And in 2015, Dilip Shanghvi, the promoter of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., invested capital as a white knight.

And Tanti tried everything to avoid bankruptcy, betting on the importance of Suzlon in the renewable energy sector. “Bankers are realizing that India cannot afford to lose a company that is the biggest in its wind space,” he told the Economic Times in a 2019 interview.

Suzlon, however, failed to come out of setbacks. In 2020, it entered into a restructuring pact with the State Bank of India, the second time in a decade. He owed the lenders more than Rs 12,000 crore at the time.

Earlier this year, Rural Electrification Corp. and the state-owned Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency took over Rs 3,000 crore debt through refinancing, while the State Bank of-India led a consortium of 16 banks that settled a Rs 5 crore stake. % in the business for the remaining rupees. Loans of 3,500 crores.

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