Stocks
Regulation: KM Abraham’s investor-unfriendly order

SEBI found HSBC Mutual Fund guilty, but a whole-time director of SEBI allowed the Fund to get away

A dogged two-year battle by senior citizen Venkat Subramanian and his wife Anuradha Venkatasubramanian with HSBC Mutual Fund against a mindless order of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) holds out hope for those who choose to fight dodgy decisions by market intermediaries and...

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Stock market: To buy or not to buy

Many investors are waiting for a crash that would throw up a buying opportunity. But as global money continues to flow into our markets, which are robust, a significant decline may not happen. So, what do long-term investors do today?

Our stock markets seem to have got stuck in a range. On the BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange), the Sensex neither breaches the 20,000 mark convincingly nor falls...

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Sun TV, SpiceJet crash on PIL demanding probe against Dayanidhi Maran

Sun TV dived over 30%, SpiceJet dropped more than 13% after Centre for Public Interest Litigation files petition on the basis of Tehelka report that Maran favoured Aircel when he was telecom minister, in ‘quid pro quo’

Shares in Sun TV and the budget carrier SpiceJet plunged by over 30% and 13% respectively in trading at around noon today, following reports that a public lawsuit named Dayanidhi Maran, the former telecom minister and now textiles minister and brother of the chairman of the companies, in a telecom probe.

According to the report, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), which has helped drive the investigations into the 2G, moved the Supreme Court yesterday, to demand an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into allegations that Mr Maran granted licences to Aircel when he was telecom minister on the basis of a "quid pro quo".

The shares of the Maran family-owned Sun TV Networks, which opened lower in a weak market, crashed to Rs260 at around noon, sharply down from its Wednesday close of Rs377. Shares in SpiceJet, which is also owned and run by Dayanidhi's brother Kalanithi Maran, suffered a similar fate and after opening at Rs40.45, dropped to Rs35.55.

These companies are just two of several companies that have had a question mark hanging over them for some time now, because of some cases that have been initiated against their owners or directors for alleged manipulation of the system through bribes.

A new petition filed by CPIL through advocate Prashant Bhushan, said, Tehelka magazine, in its 4 June 2011 issue, had published a cover story in which "a serious case has been made out against" Mr Maran during the time he was telecom minister between 23 May 2004 and 15 May 2007.
 
In November 2006, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) issued 14 letters of intent to Aircel, and all of them were converted into licences in December 2006. "Within three months of this," Tehelka said, "Mr Maran's family-owned business (Sun TV) received substantial investment from Maxis Group (which owns Aircel) by taking a 20% equity in Sun Direct. The FIPB approved this investment on 2 March and 19 March 2007. Maxis Group invested a total of Rs599.01 crore in Sun Direct between December 2007 and December 2009."

Also, Astro, a Maxis Group company, through its wholly owned company South Asia Multimedia Technologies, made an investment of Rs11.28 crore in South Asia FM Ltd (SAFL), an radio company owned by the Maran group, which had licences to own and operate 23 FM radio stations in India. These transactions show a clear quid pro quo for getting the UAS licences by Malaysia-based Maxis Group, Tehelka alleged.

Dayanidhi Maran has denied these charges. Two other key leaders of the DMK, which is a partner in the Congress-led alliance government in Delhi, have been arrested and are in custody charged in a multi-crore telecom corruption scandal.

Among the companies that have been named in the bribes-for-licences-and-spectrum case are Reliance Communications (RCom), Unitech and DB Realty and some officials of these firms have also been arrested and are under investigation.

The stocks of these companies have been volatile over the past six months, mainly because of the corruption cases. DB Realty has lost the most, dropping nearly 70% from Rs240 early December 2010. RCom has slipped over 30% from Rs141 and Unitech more than 45% from Rs65 in the same period.
 

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