ICICI’s Videocon loan: Inside Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables

Deepak Kochhar, founder of wind energy company NuPower Renewables, has been in the eye of a storm over his company’s relationship with Videocon group, which received a loan in 2012 from ICICI Bank, headed by his wife Chanda Kochhar. Videocon group, also a NuPower investor and financier, has now become a non-performing asset for lenders, including ICICI Bank.

ICICI Bank came out on Wednesday and Thursday to quash rumours of favouritism, nepotism and quid pro quo. The bank clarified that while Chanda Kochhar was on the credit committee, she was not the chairperson. Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot said there was no impropriety in the deal.

The proclaimed mission statement on NuPower’s website is: “To contribute to the energy security of India and combat climate change by actively participating towards India’s target of 160 GW of wind and solar power by 2022.”

This was the first energy business that Deepak Kochhar set up. He has not been associated with any related ventures in the past. Even so, NuPower gathered pace in 2012 as it raised Rs 3 billion from Singapore-based private equity firm Accion Capital Management in exchange for an undisclosed stake. The same year it borrowed Rs 7.5 billion from Punjab National Bank, according to public reports.

Then, according to the company’s website in 2016, Kochhar said that NuPower was looking to raise another $300 million in two equal tranches to develop 1 gigawatt (GW) of capacity over the next six years. After that the company’s news page goes silent with no announcements for the last two years.

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