Piramal Healthcare, Kanoria Chemicals and Laffans Petrochemicals are some of the companies that have earned huge amounts of cash recently by selling their businesses; but minority shareholders have got little out of this
Recently, promoters of quite a few companies have sold off parts of their business, saying that the sale proceeds are to be used for expansion and growth. But how much of this amount is actually being used for expanding business? Or, are they depriving shareholders of their legitimate dues? We looked at five companies that have taken this step over the past year.
Piramal Healthcare, India's second largest pharmaceutical company, made headlines when it announced on 20 May 2010 that it had signed a deal to sell its stake in its domestic formulation business (the Healthcare Solutions division) to Abbott Healthcare, the global, broad-based health care company.
The deal included an upfront payment of $2.12 billion, plus $400 million annually over the next four years, amounting to a total Rs17,000 crore. In reaction to the announcement, the share price of Piramal Healthcare fell by 11.81%, from Rs569.65 to Rs502.35, whereas the price of Abbott India surged by nearly 9%.
In the first week of May 2011, Piramal Healthcare said it plans to enter the financial services sector, by setting up two non-banking financial companies (NBFCs). The business will fund real estate and infrastructure projects. It is seems odd that a company engaged in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals would be interested to enter the financial services business. To add to this, the company says it plans to invest around Rs24,000 crore by leveraging its equities.
Having two completely unrelated businesses raises the risk profile of a company and this has not gone down well with investors. Therefore, in spite of announcing a 300% dividend payout amounting to Rs12 per share, the Piramal Healthcare stock price fell once again, from Rs458.80 to Rs417.55, a drop of nearly 9%. Investors who have put their money in Piramal Healthcare during the past year will be disappointed with the company's management, as the stock price has fallen about 30% over the past 12 months and the dividend payout has not been interesting either.
It's a similar story with Maharaja Shree Umaid Mills, a composite textile company that makes cotton yarn, cotton fabrics and synthetic yarn. On 21 August 2010, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) about the sale of a 22,000 square yards property in downtown Jaipur, which housed the registered office. The property which was said to be valued at Rs200 crore, was sold for Rs158 crore, as per the agreement. The stock hit a 52-week high of Rs243, gaining about 19% in two days.
Towards the end of March 2011, the company made another announcement that it was selling its 21.65% stake in Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills to IP Holding Asia Singapore PTE, a subsidiary of International Paper Company, USA. The deal is to be completed by 14 June 2011. This time the company's stock price shot up by 43.96% in the two days following the announcement. On 26 May, Maharaja Shree announced a dividend payout of just Rs5 per share, amounting to a mere Rs4.32 crore. The dividend is identical to that in the previous year.
When we asked the company how it planned to use the funds from the sale, Govind Sharda, executive director, said, "The investment plans of the company to utilise the funds generated/likely to be generated would be announced in due course, keeping in mind the potential of growth for stakeholders."
"In the interim, the company has begun its process for implementation of its expansion plans for value addition in the existing line of textile business, where it could invest in excess of Rs1 billion over the next two years. The commercial closure of the process is underway and once accomplished, the same would be suitably communicated to the stakeholders," Mr Sharda said.
The other companies that have taken a similar course are Laffans Petrochemicals, Kanoria Chemicals and JB Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals.
Laffans Petrochemicals is a leading manufacturer and exporter of chemicals, textiles and dyeing finishing chemicals. On 3 April 2011, Laffans said it was selling its chemicals division at Ankleshwar, in Gujarat, to Huntsman Corporation, the global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals. Despite both the companies being listed on reputable stock exchanges, the price of the deal has not been made public. The Laffans stock price jumped by 19.8% after the announcement. However, the company which has made profits has no history of paying dividends.
On 17 April 2011, Kanoria Chemicals and Industries (KCI), the chemical intermediates manufacturer, announced the sale of its chloro-chemicals unit to the Aditya Birla Group for Rs830 crore. The Kanoria stock price shot up by 20%. The company said funds from the sale would be used for growth of its core businesses. When asked for details of the plans, NK Nokhla, CFO, said, "Considering that the deal was concluded quickly, KCI is yet to firm up detail plans for utilisation of the sale proceeds." At a meeting on 28 May, the company board decided on a 100% dividend payout.
A few days back, JB Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals also announced the sale of its over-the-counter business in Russia for Rs938.51 crore. The proceeds from the sale, it said, will be used for expanding the business. Investors were understandably unhappy as this was a major revenue generating arm, and the share price fell by 13.06% following the announcement.
It seems that some companies can be really tight-fisted when it comes to sharing capital gains with shareholders. Usually, they will claim-legitimately-that they plan to use the cash for growth. And while institutional investors rarely pressure companies to pay dividends, minority shareholders who hope for higher dividends hardly have a say in these matters. Clearly, investors must take into consideration the attitude of company managements in such matters, before putting their money into such companies.
The once popular art fund has failed to live up to its promise to repay investors. Chief advisor Neville Tuli assures again that payments will be made despite the delay
Osian's creditors may have to wait, says Neville Tuli, chief advisor of Osian's Art Fund. His response was in answer to an investor's queries about the delay in funds being transferred to investors' bank accounts. Mr Tuli has also indicated that the date for 'total redemption' that was initially set as end-June, will be deferred.
"We are trying our best to adhere to the deadline and will be able to give you a more precise update by Friday, 24 June 2011, but a delay of about seven to ten days will probably occur in some cases," Mr Tuli said. Most payments will be in the form of demand drafts.
When Moneylife approached Mr Tuli with the case of an analyst whose mother had invested Rs10 lakh in Osian's Art Fund, he promised that the first instalment would be disbursed on 4th June, but it did not happen. "We have checked with our bank and no transfer has come through from Osian's. NEFT transfers usually come through the same day. Could you let us know when we can expect the first instalment?" the investor had asked Osian's chief advisor.
Mr Tuli's response was: "All NEFT (national electronic funds transfer) transfers started on Monday, 6th June, and will close by Thursday, 9th June 2011. The investor's NEFT was completed this morning (Tuesday)," Mr Tuli said.
Earlier, Osian's chief advisor had said that all unit-holders would be paid in three instalments in June which would account for 85% of their capital. For those who were expecting payments via NEFT, and whose account/branch details differed from that in Osian's records, there would be a delay of four to five days. Updates about the status of the total redemption target would be available on 24th June.
However, Mr Tuli's assurances have failed to convince other investors who are yet to receive their payments and they are now planning to organise themselves into a group and take stringent action.
"Can the investors say if they have received their investment + return (as indicated at closure) between 17th May and 29th May as was last promised by Mr Tuli? If not, a few investors have suggested a sit-in protest outside Osian's office, to get the attention of the local press and the police," an investor said.
The proposal is supported by Rajiv Jain, whose company had supplied Osian's with paintings for auctions, but it has not received payments even after the paintings were sold. "The auditors of Osian's have sent us a letter acknowledging that they owe us this money. It will be a great help if our company can join a common platform so that we can retrieve our hard-earned money," Mr Jain said.
The tide of anger is unlikely to subside if Mr Tuli delays the return of funds any further.
YouTube will feature a premium block buster movie every month absolutely free of cost
All netizens in India have more reasons to rejoice as YouTube is introducing a new destination for all the movie buffs titled 'YouTube Box Office'. This exclusive channel will feature a premium block buster movie every month absolutely free of cost. Kick-starting the initiative will be the latest hit 'Band Baaja Baaraat', starring Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma.
The YouTube Box Office channel will also feature other popular movies which users can watch for free from the YouTube catalogue of movies which includes over 1,500 titles including regional language films. The channel will be available to all users in India and will be IP blocked for users in other countries. Intel will be the exclusive presenting sponsor for the channel in India.
Sandeep Aurora, Director-Marketing, Intel South Asia said, "The YouTube Box Office channel provides the consumers an opportunity to view premium, high quality movies on their PCs. Consumers can also enjoy these movies on their big screen HDTV with Intel® Wireless Display (WiDi) feature on the 2nd Generation Intel Core Processor based PCs and bring YouTube to life in HD format on their TVs."
YouTube will collaborate with its partners in India on a revenue share basis to bring more of such premium content on YouTube Box Office every month.