SC directs Sahara to furnish list of assets to safeguard investors

Sahara Group 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

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Sahara Group 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, reports PTI.

“You (Sahara Group) give us clear unencumbered property,” a bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia said while asking Sahara Group counsel to apprise the court on it within three weeks after taking instruction from the companies.

Sahara Group 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 apex court was hearing the 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 the 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, also comprising justices AK Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar, said.

The remarks were made by the bench when advocate Fali S Nariman and advocate Keshab Mohan, appearing for the Sahara Group, said the company 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 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.

The bench had, on 28 November 2011, also asked the companies to place before it their 2010-11 balance sheets and statements of accounts for November 2011.

“Net worth of the companies particularly assets against which liability has been created, financial statements including balance sheets of 2010-11 and statements of accounts of the companies of November 2011 shall be mentioned in the affidavit,” the bench had said.

The apex court had earlier issued notices to the central government and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) seeking their response on Sahara’s plea challenging SAT’s 18 October 2011 order, directing it to refund the money raised through optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCD) to investors within six weeks.

It extended till 8th January the time limit set by SAT which had passed the order on the Sahara Group’s appeal against SEBI’s June order asking the group’s firms to return the money, collected from investors through financial instrument OFCD, on the ground of violation of regulatory norms.

The stock market regulator had also restrained the two entities from accessing the securities market for raising funds till payments were made to the satisfaction of SEBI.

The two companies and its promoter Subrata Roy Sahara, and directors—Vandana Bhargava, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary—were told jointly and severally to refund the collected money.

The company had then approached the Supreme Court which asked it to approach the tribunal.

While dismissing the appeal, SAT had held that the market regulator has jurisdiction over such fund-raising schemes.

 

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RIL in talks with leading players to launch hi-speed broadband

 

In 2010, Mukesh Ambani-led RIL had forayed into the telecom arena with a bang, announcing the acquisition of Infotel, which had emerged as the sole winner of pan-India broadband spectrum, for Rs4,800 crore

Mumbai: Reliance Industries (RIL) on Friday said it is the process of finalising agreements with leading technology players and service providers to offer high-speed broadband wireless services in the country, but did not give any specific timeframe, reports PTI.

RIL “... is in the process of setting up a world-class broadband wireless network using state-of-the-art technologies and finalising the arrangement with leading global technology players, service providers and infrastructure providers, application developers, device manufacturers and others to help usher the fourth generation (4G) revolution into India,” the company said in a statement announcing its third quarter results.

However, the company did not divulge the timeframe for pan-India roll-out of its broadband services.

In 2010, Mukesh Ambani-led RIL had forayed into the telecom arena with a bang, announcing the acquisition of Infotel, which had emerged as the sole winner of pan-India broadband spectrum, for Rs4,800 crore.

In June last year, Mr Ambani had said that the services would be in the domain of education, healthcare, entertainment, financial services and government-citizen interfaces.

RIL, valued by the market at $50.2 billion, said it had cash in hand of Rs74,539 crore at the end of December.

Its outstanding debt at the end of the quarter stood at Rs74,503 crore, compared to Rs67,397 crore as of 31 March 2011.

Earlier during the month, Reliance Industries and Network 18 group had joined hands for a multi-layered deal under which the Mukesh Ambani-led corporate giant would sell a part of its interest in the Eenadu TV channels and would also fund promoters of the media group.

RIL did not specify the exact financial details of various transactions. Network 18 group company TV18 in a separate statement had said that its board has approved an outlay of up to Rs2,100 crore for the proposed acquisition of ETV assets.

Broadband and broadband-enabled digital services are the next big leap forward in the digital transformation of our knowledge economy, Mr Ambani had said.

 

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Subbarao meets FM ahead of monetary policy review

Headline inflation fell to a two-year low of 7.47% in December 2011. Food inflation entered the negative zone in mid-December and stood at (-)0.42 per cent as of 7th January, as per the latest numbers released by the government

New Delhi: Ahead of monetary policy review on 24th January, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor D Subbarao on Friday met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and discussed the prevailing macro-economic situation, including inflation, reports PTI.

“I came to review the macro-economic situation with the finance minister...” Mr Subbarao told reporters after his meeting with Mr Mukherjee.

He said this was a standard practice for RBI governor to discuss the state of economy with the finance minister before review of the monetary policy.

After the meeting, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “RBI will announce the policy at the appropriate time. I had a discussion with RBI governor (on the issue).” 

The central bank had hiked interest rates by 375 basis points between March 2010 and October 2011 to deal with the persistent high inflation, including rising prices of food items.

In its last review in December, the RBI pressed the pause button on its monetary tightening measures and said that it might go for rate cuts in the future as inflation moderates.

Headline inflation fell to a two-year low of 7.47% in December 2011. Food inflation entered the negative zone in mid-December and stood at (-)0.42 per cent as of 7th January, as per the latest numbers released by the government.

At the same time, RBI is also confronted with moderation in economic growth. The government has cut its growth projection from 9% to about 7% for the current fiscal.

The economic growth rate slipped to 7.3% during the first half of the current fiscal from 8.6% in the corresponding period a year ago. In the second quarter (July-September), GDP growth slipped to 6.9%, the lowest level in over two years.

Earlier this week, the World Bank revised its India growth forecast downwards to 6.8% from 8% earlier, citing the tight monetary situation and contagion effect of the global downturn.

Amidst this backdrop, Mr Subbarao in the last review had said “from this point on, monetary policy actions are likely to reverse the cycle, responding to the risks to growth.”

 

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