Foreign investors pare holdings in Indian banks

Various foreign investors have together sold banking stocks worth an estimated Rs10,000 crore (over $2 billion) since October 2011. While foreign investors have sold shares of at least 28 Indian banks, they have purchased fresh shares of only nine banking stocks during this period

New Delhi: Overseas investors seem to be on a selling spree when it comes to the Indian banking stocks, as they have pared their holdings in at least 28 public and private sector banks of the country in the past few months, reports PTI.

Various foreign investors have together sold banking stocks worth an estimated Rs10,000 crore (over $2 billion) in about four-and-a-half months since October 2011.

While foreign investors have sold shares of at least 28 Indian banks, they have purchased fresh shares of only nine banking stocks during this period.

The value of fresh banking shares purchased during this period is also much less at just about Rs600 crore, as per an analysis of shareholding pattern and open-market transaction data available with stock exchanges.

The banks where foreign investors have pared their holdings include private players like ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank and DCB, as also public sector giants like State Bank of India (SBI) and Punjab National Bank (PNB).

Those having seen an increase in the holding of overseas investors include HDFC Bank, South Indian Bank and IDBI Bank.

In one of the biggest share-sale transaction in the banking sector during this period, a unit of Singapore government’s investment arm, Temasek Holdings, sold shares worth about Rs1,500 crore in ICICI Bank on 8th February.

Market analysts said the shares could have been sold to book profit after a sharp rally of about one-third in ICICI Bank shares since the beginning of 2012.

Indian banking and financial sector stocks have witnessed many share transactions in the recent past, given a sharp surge in their value since the beginning of 2012.

While US-based Carlyle group sold shares worth about Rs1,350 crore in HDFC on 1st February, Warburg Pincus sold shares accounting for about 2.4% stake in Kotak Mahindra Bank for about Rs800 crore on the same day.

Besides, the shareholding pattern data for the October-December 2011 quarter shows that FIIs (Foreign Institutional Investors) lowered their holding in 26 banks.

These included ICICI Bank, SBI, Axis Bank, DCB, Yes Bank, Allahabad Bank, Indian Bank, Corporation Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, Dhanlaxmi Bank and Karnataka Bank, among others.

In fact, the banking sector witnessed the highest level of share sale by FIIs during that quarter. Also, a few like PNB, SBI, Syndicate Bank, Allahabad Bank and Central Bank have seen their FII holdings declining for four consecutive quarters now.

On the other hand, the FII holding increased during the last quarter of calendar year 2011 in banks like South Indian Bank, Bank of India, City Union Bank, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Federal Bank, Andhra Bank, HDFC Bank and ING Vysya Bank.

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SC pulls up SEBI for leaking Sahara Group’s proposal to media

The apex court said it was ‘distressed’ that the proposal sent by Sahara’s counsel to the advocate of SEBI has come on one of the TV channels and such incidents which have been increasing day-by-day “not only affect the business sentiments but also interfere in the administration of justice”

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has pulled up market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for leaking to media details of the proposal of Sahara Group’s list of property sent to it as a guarantee to ensure that interest of investors are protected, reports PTI.

The apex court said it was ‘distressed’ that the proposal sent by Sahara’s counsel to the advocate of SEBI has come on one of the TV channels and such incidents which have been increasing day-by-day “not only affect the business sentiments but also interfere in the administration of justice”.

“We are distressed to note that even ‘without prejudice’ proposals sent by counsel for the appellants (Sahara) to the counsel for SEBI has come on one of the TV channels.

“Such incidents are increasing by the day. Such reporting not only affect the business sentiments but also interfere in the administration of justice,” a bench headed by chief justice SH Kapadia said.

Taking strong note of the incident, the bench said it would pass appropriate orders regarding reporting of sub-judice matters.

“In the above circumstances, we have requested counsel on both sides to make written application to this court so that appropriate orders could be passed by this court with regard to reporting of matters, which are sub-judice,” the bench, also comprising justices AK Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar said.

The leakage of the proposal was brought to the notice of the court by Sahara’s counsel and senior advocate Fali S Nariman, who had sent it to the SEBI’s counsel.

Sahara’s another counsel Kehav Mohan said the proposal was about the group’s assets to the tune of Rs35,000 crore as against the liability of Rs24,000 crore towards its investors.

The proposal was sent in response to the apex court’s 20th January order in which the Sahara Group was asked to consider placing before it the details of ‘unencumbered’ property to guarantee the protection of interest of around 2.3 crore investors who put in around Rs17,400 crore in its two companies.

Sahara Group had said it has given details of all properties, including the immovable properties, in the affidavit filed by it on 4th January and assured the bench that the interests of the investors are protected.

The court was hearing Sahara Group’s plea challenging the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) order directing its two companies to refund around Rs17,400 crore to their investors.

The tribunal’s decision was stayed by the apex court which had on 9th January also admitted the appeal filed by Sahara.

“We want the amount of the investors to be secured. You can also give a bank guarantee or list of the assets of the company,” the bench had said in its last hearing.

The Sahara Group had said it has sufficient assets to ensure the protection of interests of the investors.

“Do you have immovable property enough to meet the liability vis-a-vis creditors,” the bench wanted to know from Mr Nariman who had said there were three time more assets than the liability.

The group had earlier told the court that it has filed an affidavit explaining that it will protect the interests of 2.3 crore investors who have put in their money in Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (now known as Sahara Commodity Services Corporation) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation.

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Now, SEBI catches social networking fever

SEBI is hiring specialist IT officers, whose role would include keeping track of social media platforms like Twitter and blogs for all market-related information, comments and discussions. The market regulator is also toying with the idea of having its own official presence on Twitter and other social networks to strengthen its information dissemination process for investors and other market participants

New Delhi: Market watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) seems to be the latest to catch the fancy of social networks like Twitter, Facebook and blogs for spreading its message to investors as also to snoop on discussions at these platforms as part of its investigation and oversight activities, reports PTI.

SEBI is hiring specialist IT officers, whose role would include keeping track of social media platforms like Twitter and blogs for all market-related information, comments and discussions.

SEBI is also toying with the idea of having its own official presence on Twitter and other social networks to strengthen its information dissemination process for investors and other market participants, a senior official said.

Another financial sector regulator, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is also considering a presence on social networking platforms like Twitter.

Late last year, RBI conducted a survey to know whether it should make its web interface more interactive with features like discussion forum, live chat and blogs on its website, and by having a Twitter presence for information dissemination.

Recently, the Prime Minister’s Office also debuted on Twitter and is said to be exploring the idea of having a presence on Facebook, as well.

A number of organisations globally, including regulators and government departments, are increasingly using Twitter and other such platforms for fast dissemination of information and collating the public views.

Even the US president Barack Obama and his official residence and workplace, the White House, have a presence on Twitter and various other online platforms such as blogs.

In India also, some ministries and many corporates are present on Twitter, while a number of public figures are active members of this micro-blogging site.

Experts say that social media platforms have become a very effective place to spread the information fast, but at the same time, they are also being used by various scrupulous elements, including those in the stock market.

There are numerous blogs where members discuss stock market trends and in many cases stock tips are also exchanged.

Leading social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are also full of such discussions and it is feared that scrupulous elements could be using such forums for their market manipulation activities.

On many occasions, SEBI has warned investors against websites offering stock tips. In one such warning, SEBI has said the investors expose themselves to undue risk in using unconfirmed information available on such websites and blogs.

SEBI recently put in place software tools to analyse social networking discussions to strengthen its probe and oversight on stock market transactions.

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