Hours after JSW Steel Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal said that the Ruia family should be given a chance to regain control of Essar Steel, ArcelorMittal has hit back.
The LN Mittal-led company, which has the backing of Essar Steel lenders, said that the remark sends a "negative signal" to investors.
"If the law is not implemented correctly and the rules are flouted, as suggested by some, this sends a negative signal about the certainty of India as an investment destination," said a spokesperson of ArcelorMittal.
Although the statement didn't refer directly to Jindal's comments, it was clear what the provocation was.
In an interview, Jindal said, "They (Ruias) should be given a chance. It is their company, if they're paying 100 percent of the money, so why not."
"The process is not over till its over. And it is not over yet," he added.
Jindal added that JSW Steel, which had joined hands with Numetal in the second round of Essar Steel's auction, was interested in the insolvent company.
"It appears there are certain parties in India who would like that the IBC not be implemented according to the law. The IBC was introduced for a very serious reason - to address a major problem with bad loans," said the ArcelorMittal spokesperson.
ArcelorMittal had offered Rs 42,000 crore to lenders of Essar Steel. But the Ruia family, in a last-minute entry into the race, submitted a bid of Rs 54,000 crore.
The ArcelorMittal spokesperson noted: "No company or individual can say they were not aware of the process and therefore should not expect to come in at a late stage, providing no details as to the financing of their offer after a decision has been taken by the Committee of Creditors. In the case of Essar Steel, opportunities have been provided to bidders for nearly a year to first be eligible and second, to make a compelling offer."
All eyes will now turn towards the January 31 hearing of the National Company Law Tribunal, which will give its verdict on the maintainability of the bid given by the Ruia company, Essar Steel Asia Holdings.