The Pawar family holds significant stake in Four Seasons Wines, a subsidiary of Vijay Mallya's United Spirits
Sharad Pawar, Union agriculture minister, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and former chief of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is neck-deep in controversy over the Indian Premier League (IPL).
According to media reports, Mr Pawar and his family hold more than 51,000 shares or about 0.05% stake in United Spirits, the wine and liquor unit of Vijay Mallya's UB group. The Pawar family owns Lap Finance and Consultancy Pvt Ltd, which in turn had stake in grape grower and winemaker Baramati Grape Industries Ltd. Just before the start of auction for the IPL teams, Baramati Grape Industries was merged into United Spirits in a ratio of 31:20. This means shareholders of Baramati Grape got 31 shares of United Spirits for every 20 shares they owned in Baramati Grapes.
Under normal circumstances, shareholders of the larger company which will remain active after the merger, get a better share-swap ratio-and shareholders of the smaller company get lesser shares post the merger. For example, in the Bank of Rajasthan (BoR) and ICICI Bank merger deal, ICICI Bank offered 25 shares for every 118 shares of BoR.
However, in the Baramati-United Spirits merger deal, shareholders of Baramati Grape got a better share-swap deal. Later in September 2007, Mr Mallya was able to win an IPL franchisee, Royal Challengers Bangalore. Another co-incidence is that Royal Challengers Sports Pvt Ltd (RCSPL), the company which owns the IPL Bangalore team, just happens to be a subsidiary of United Spirits, in which the Pawar family holds shares worth around Rs6 crore.
Earlier, in June 2006, UB Group, which is a spirit maker, entered winemaking and bought over French winery Bouvet-Ladubay. The relations between Mr Pawar and the Mallya family go back a long way. Baramati Agro Industries, which was facing rough weather with its Bosca and Cinzana wines, had received advice from Vitthal Mallya, father of the UB Group chairman. The Mallya senior suggested to Mr Pawar to switch to growing Bangalore purple (a variety of grapes used as raw material for brandy and medicines) from table grapes.
Mr Pawar always had an inclination towards winemaking as evident from the Baramati Grape Industries deal with an Italian winemaker that resulted in the production of Bosca and Cinzana wines. Mr Pawar's love for wines and Vijay Mallya's business acumen as a spirit-maker came handy when the two decided to join hands to produce quality wines from Baramati.
The UB Group, in 2007, formed a 51:49 joint venture-Four Seasons Wines Ltd-with famers from Baramati led by the Pawar family. Under the agreement, the UB Group agreed to buy all the grapes produced by these farmers at a fixed price besides buying about 300 acres of land within that area.
In an interview, published at the Indian Wine Academy's site (http://www.indianwineacademy.com/) in August 2007, Abhay Kewadkar, chief winemaker and business head for wines at UB Group had said: "We are not concerned with who they bring in for the equity part, though our understanding is that many small growers will be the shareholders. The nine-member Board has five from our side-Mr Vijay Mallya, Mr Vijay Rekhi, Mr Sami Lalla, Murli-the CFO and me. Pratap Pawar, Ranjit Pawar (nephew of agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and son of the elder brother Appa Saheb, the man behind Baramati Grape), Sadanand Sule (who is the US educated son-in-law of Sharad Pawar) will be included in the Board from our partners' side."
Another media report clearly shows the Pawar family and a few farmers as partners in Four Seasons.
However, when contacted now, Mr Kewadkar said, "Some local farmers may hold shares in Four Seasons." He said that since he was in a meeting, he could not provide more details on the same.
United Spirits operates through two wine subsidiaries, United Vintners and Four Seasons Wines. United Vintners deals in imported wines, while Four Seasons produces Indian wines. United Spirits also directly owns Royal Challengers Sports and indirectly owns the Bangalore IPL team. Is there any direct connection between Royal Challengers Sports and its other sister concerns Four Seasons Wines and United Vintners? Well, we don't know as yet.
The tax-free enclave in Kolkata, which was to be developed in a small area of 10.48 hectares, was de-notified along with the other three Seas in February 2009, on account of demand shrinkage for commercial space
The government today gave the nod for the country's largest real estate developer, DLF, to revive its plan for a special economic zone (SEZ) in Kolkata, reports PTI.
"The Board of Approval (BoA) has allowed re-notification of Elf’s SEZ in Kolkata," commerce ministry additional secretary D K Mittal told reporters in New Delhi after a meeting of the BoA, the nodal body for SEZ-related matters.
The Kolkata SEZ was one of DLF’s four SEZ projects notified in June, 2008.
However, the tax-free enclave in Kolkata, which was to be developed in a small area of 10.48 hectares, was de-notified along with the other three Seas in February, 2009, on account of demand shrinkage for commercial space.
With the improved sentiment in the real estate sector, DLF had approached the commerce ministry for reviving this IT/Its tax-free zone. In its application for restarting the project, the company said demand for IT/ITES leasing space is showing signs of improvement.
However, DLF’s three other projects in
In all, about 12 developers had pulled out their SEZ projects due to a slowdown in the commercial space segment last year.
When it became clear that key constituents like railway minister Mamata Banerjee and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar would not be attending the EGoM meeting and a decision would not be taken, the oil ministry pressed IGL and MGL to defer the CNG price hike decision
The government has asked compressed natural gas (CNG) retailers in the national capital and Mumbai to defer by a week the hike in CNG price that had become necessary following doubling of natural gas price, reports PTI.
Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL) in Delhi and Mahanagar Gas Ltd (MGL) in Mumbai were to hike price of CNG they sell to automobiles by 25% and that of gas piped to households for cooking purposes by close to 6% from today.
The two companies received calls from the oil ministry yesterday morning asking them to defer the decision till 15th June, a source privy to the communiqué said.
Following the "verbal" order, the two firms did not go ahead with their planned price increase from today.
The oil ministry had in a 31st May written order detailing the decision of the Cabinet to increase natural gas price to $4.2 per million metric British thermal units (mmBtu), had stated that IGL and MGL can hike CNG and piped gas prices from 8th June.
The CNG price hike was to coincide with a planned increase in petrol and diesel rates from 8th June.
The source said yesterday's diktat came hours before an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) was to meet on raising petrol and diesel prices in sync with cost.
However, when it became clear that key constituents like railway minister Mamata Banerjee and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar would not be attending the EGoM meeting and a decision would not be taken, the oil ministry pressed IGL and MGL to defer the CNG price hike decision, he said.
The EGoM is to meet again in a week to 10 days time to consider freeing auto fuel prices from government control, a move that will result in petrol prices going up by Rs3.35 a litre and diesel rates by Rs3.49 per litre.
"While the decision to raise natural gas price came into effect from 1st June, the oil ministry on purpose had stated in the order that city gas suppliers (like IGL) should effect any hike from 8th June," the source said.
The government decision to raise natural gas prices from Rs3.2 per cubic metre to Rs7.5 per cubic metre ($4.2 per mmBtu) would have resulted in CNG price in Delhi going up by Rs5.60 per kg to Rs27.50 a kg. Piped natural gas price was to be raised from Rs15.92 per cubic metre to Rs16.85 per cubic metre.
The CNG rate hike would have narrowed the price advantage the environment friendly fuel had over petrol and diesel and it was felt that this would be coupled with a price hike in conventional transport fuels, the source added.