While slamming the Sahara group and its chief Subrata Roy, the apex court asked SEBI to deposit money of untraced investors of Sahara with the Centre
The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Sahara group and its chief Subrata Roy for not responding to the contempt plea filed by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The apex court granted one week’s time to Sahara to file reply in the contempt petition and application, which seeks detention of the Sahara group founder and three directors.
The apex court also directed the market regulator to deposit money of Sahara's untraced investors with the Union government. “Pay genuine investors from the money deposited by Sahara and transfer the remaining funds to the government if you do not find genuine investors,” the SC said.
Market regulator SEBI on 15th March, had filed a plea before the apex court, seeking clarificatory directions for implementing orders of the SC. In the five-point plea, SEBI has also asked for civil detention of Subrata Roy and three other Sahara directors and also wants them to deposit their passports with its whole-time member.
SEBI’s move was triggered by the fact that Sahara has approached the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT). Sahara India, a partnership firm of Sahara group, has also filed another case in the Allahabad High Court for de-freezing its accounts. Both these things made it difficult for the regulator to go ahead with implementing the SC order of 31 August 2012 without some clarifying directions from the apex court.
“You are manipulating courts,” the Supreme Court said while slamming the Sahara group for approaching Allahabad High Court and other forums.
It may be recalled that Mr Roy through his advertisements had challenged SEBI to an open debate on an issue that had gone through a long legal process and where the group had used every legal forum available to it to file multiple appeals and challenges to stymie SEBI’s investigation.
On 10th April, the Sahara group chief and three of its directors, Vandana Bhargava, Ashok Roy Choudhary and Ravi Shankar Dubey made a personal appearance before the market regulator. However, Mr Roy continued his tirade saying that the market regulator was more worried about his personal assets than refunding the money to investors of Sahara (read more Subrata Roy continues his tirade against SEBI after personal appearance ).
SEBI on 13th February passed two separate orders, together running into 160 pages, directing attachment of properties and freezing of accounts. It had said that in furtherance to a Supreme Court order directing refund of investors’ money collected by the two Sahara group companies, it ordered “attachment of all moveable and immoveable properties, bank accounts and demat accounts of these two companies and that of its promoters and directors Subrata Roy, Vandana Bhargava, Ashok Roy Choudhary and Ravi Shankar Dubey”.
The assets ordered to be attached included those related to the group’s Aamby Valley resort town near Pune, other real estate assets in Delhi, Mumbai and at other places across the country, shares, mutual funds and various other investments.
Passing the attachment orders, SEBI had said that the two companies had raised Rs6,380 crore and Rs19,400 crore, respectively from bondholders and “various illegalities” were committed in raising of these funds.
Earlier this month, SEBI chief UK Sinha indirectly pointed out the games Sahara has been playing about repaying the money as per a Supreme Court order. The very next day, in an open attack on the SEBI chairman, Sahara put out a press release saying that “rich men’s SEBI do not understand, recognise poor Investors”.
Speaking at the Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC), the SEBI chief pointed out: “There is a famous instance where a company has claimed that it has refunded more than Rs20,000 crore in the last three to four months to so-called investors out of which more than 90% has been returned in cash. How feasible and credible can this story be?”
While Mr Sinha did not name Sahara (neither did most newspapers which are large beneficiaries of Sahara advertisements), in a strongly worded press release issued the next day, Sahara attacked the SEBI chief. (Read more Saharashri Subrata Roy hits out hard at the SEBI chairman; seeks apology)
Meanwhile, according to a media report, Sahara India, which is amongst the top defaulters of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in the country, has now come under the scanner of the Provident Fund department. “Official data reveals that in total, the Subrata Roy-promoted group owes Rs3,341.67 lakh to the EPFO as dues,” reports the Financial Express.
The Supreme Court in August 2012, asked Subrata Roy-led Sahara group to refund Rs17,400 crore collected from investors within three months with 15% interest. A bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and JS Khehar also directed SEBI to take action against these two companies, if they fail to refund the money, while allowing regulators to attach properties and freeze bank accounts of SIRECL and Sahara Housing Investment Corp (SHICL).
A close or even an intraday low below any previous day’s low on the Nifty may be the first sign of the end of the current upmove
The market closed with decent gains despite a fair deal of choppiness that was seen in the first half of the trading session. A close or even an intraday low below any previous day’s low on the Nifty may be the first sign of the end of the current upmove. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) reported a volume of 66.68 crore shares and advance-decline ratio of 851:477.
The Indian market witnessed a mixed opening on poor guidance by IT services major Wipro in its quarterly earnings announced on Friday. On the global front, Asian markets were mostly higher as the Japanese yen slipped to a four-year low against the dollar. However, markets in China and Hong Kong were trading lower following a major earthquake in the Sichuan province earthquake which left 188 people dead and about 11,500 injured.
The Nifty opened seven points higher at 5,790 and the Sensex started the day at 18,990, down 26 points from its close on Thursday. The opening figures on both benchmarks were their intraday lows.
The market soon picked up momentum on buying interest in consumer durables, autos, banking, healthcare and PSU stocks. However, the market pared its early gains on profit taking as choppiness, a feature of the derivative contract expiry week, was seen in trade today.
The market indices continued their fluctuations, albeit in the positive terrain. The positive opening of the key European markets supported the upmove in the local market in the post-noon session.
The benchmarks hit their highs towards the close of trade. The Nifty rose to 5,845 and the Sensex climbed to 19,205 at their respective highs.
The market closed marginally off the highs and in the positive for the second day in a row. The Nifty settled 51 points (0.89%) higher at 5,834 and the Sensex finished at 19,170, a gain of 153 points (0.81%).
The broader indices outperformed the Sensex today. The BSE Mid-cap index surged 1.44% and the BSE Small-cap index climbed 0.90%.
Barring the BSE IT index (down 2.37%) and BSE TECk (down1.26%), all other sectoral gauges settled higher. The top gainers were BSE Consumer Durables (up 4.26%); BSE Realty (up 3.41%); BSE Capital Goods (up 3.33%); BSE Bankex (up 2.41%) and BSE Metal (up 2.03%).
Twenty of the 30 stocks on the Sensex closed in the positive. The chief gainers were Coal India (up 4.33%); Larsen & Toubro (up 4.21%); HDFC Bank (up 3.85%); BHEL (up 3.04%) and Tata Steel (up 2.27%). The main losers were Wipro (down 7.95%); Infosys (down 2.22%); ONGC (down 1.84%); TCS (down 1.75%) and Bajaj Auto (down 1.67%).
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Reliance Communications (up 13.47%) and HDIL (up 12.04%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Wipro (down 7.95%) and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (down 2.81%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—Aro Granite Industries (up 20%) and Noida Medicare Centre (up 20%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Genera Agri Corp (down 9.99%) and Karur KCP Packaging (down 19.86%).
Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 35 ended in the green. The key gainers were Reliance Infrastructure (up 5.15%); Coal India (up 4.59%); L&T (up 4.24%); HDFC Bank (up 4.12%) and IndusInd Bank (up 3.64%). The main losers were UltraTech Cement Company (down 3.01%); Infosys (down 2.21%); HCL Technologies (down 2.15%); ONGC (down 2%) and TCS (down 1.91%).
Markets in Asia, with the exception of the Shanghai Composite and the Jakarta Composite, closed higher as a weaker yen improved prospects for exporters from the region and on bargain buying after recent losses in the markets. Support from Group of Twenty (G-20) leaders for the Bank of Japan’s plan to suppress deflation also aided the sentiment.
The Hang Seng rose 0.14%; the KLSE Composite added 0.02%; the Nikkei 225 surged 1.89%; the Straits Times gained 0.45%; the Seoul Composite climbed 1.03% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 0.50% higher. On the other hand, The Shanghai Composite fell 0.11% and the Jakarta Composite lost 0.03%.
At the time of writing, the key markets in Europe were up between 0.56% and 0.78% and the US stock futures were in the positive, indicating a positive opening for US stocks later in the day.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of stocks totalling Rs940.07 crore on Thursday. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities amounting to Rs405.21 crore.
IL&FS Engineering and Construction Company has received a letter of Intent (LoI) from IPTF, Fujairah, FZC for oil pipeline work at Port of Fujairah for an amount of Rs71.4 crore, the company said in an announcement on the BSE. The scope of work consists of laying six pipelines from the IPTF terminal at Fujairah to the Port of Fujairah for the evacuation of white oil and black oil products. IL& FS Engineering fell 0.57% to close at Rs43.75 on the NSE.
Videocon Industries Monday announced a significant natural gas discovery in its offshore Rovumal block in Mozambique. The Orca-1 discovery well encountered approximately 190 net feet (58 metres) of natural gas in a Paleocene fan system, while the accumulation was fully contained within the offshore area-1 of the Rovumal, the company said in a filing with the exchanges. The stock surged 6.65% to close at Rs227.75 on the NSE.
Vedanta group firm Sesa Goa is hopeful of securing forest clearances in a “matter of days” to resume operations in Karnataka, a top company official said. The company’s mine in Chitradurga district is among those in the State on which the Supreme Court had last week lifted the ban. The stock rose 0.33% to close at Rs152 on the NSE.
The market is very positive on the fall in prices of crude oil and gold. Net effect on the currency is likely to be limited, as “all else” is unlikely to remain the same, according to the Credit Suisse report
Most India observers are concerned about the rise in India’s current account deficit (CAD).
That this is part of a global trend does not make it desirable, but makes it more sustainable. Since 2007, as developed economies have slowed consumption, emerging markets (EMs) have stepped into that gap, accelerating local demand: the expansion of India’s CAD and even its level are not as excessive on a relative basis. These observations were made by global investment bank Credit Suisse Equity Research in its India Market Strategy report.
For India, while “net oil” and “net gold” imports did rise, the bulk of the adjusted import basket remains non-oil/non-gold. Now, with domestic growth slowing dramatically, imports are slowing, and the investment bank believes that imports will fall further. Capital goods and electronics exports have the most potential downside (could correct by $25 billion over 1-2 years). Exports are also likely to improve, driven by pharmaceuticals, autos and agricultural commodities. The unconvincing part of the rise in exports in FY11 is now history, Credit Suisse believes.
While the market is getting excited by the fall in oil and gold prices, Credit Suisse is less optimistic about this: low oil prices also affect capital flows; and anecdotally consumers have already started “bottom-fishing” gold, offsetting at least some of the effect of lower gold prices on the currency.
The apprehension for several Indian investors is the potential impact on the currency ‘if’ capital flows slow down. The argument centres on the perceived circularity of capital flows and its impact on the Indian rupee. As the same argument can be spun from the positive side and given that any country with a CAD will have the same problem, this is a hypothetical concern: historically, in all but two years since 1991 portfolio flows have been healthy. In fact, across EMs FII equity flows have been quite stable, as there is a structural angle to them.
According to Credit Suisse, the bond market in India is maturing, with a growing and diversified pool of assets. However, allowing FIIs unfettered access to Indian rupee debt remained in the “no go” territory. Yet, in an overreaction, the government significantly relaxed these limits starting 1 April 2013. Over a period of time this should allow India to benefit from easy global liquidity: foreign holdings of Indian bonds on a relative basis are among the lowest globally. Yield-chasers who do not fear the rupee’s fall are likely to find Indian debt attractive: news reports suggest Japanese retail investors are now looking at Indian debt more constructively.
The rupee has been among the weakest globally over the past two years: the 36-country
REER is close to two-decade lows. The relative strength Year-to-date (YTD) is therefore not surprising, especially as it is part of a trend across EMs. Medium-term risks of over-reliance on foreign debt aside, a ‘crisis’ is certainly not imminent, according to the investment bank.
A potential stabilisation/minor appreciation in the rupee can drive inflation further downwards: global commodities in rupee terms are seeing the first decline in four years. While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to stay concerned about elevated CPI (consumer price index) levels (around 80% is food and services), a sharp drop in the WPI (wholesale price index) and a falling CAD are likely to encourage the RBI to cut rates.
Rate cuts for most mean a risk-on rally: not surprisingly financials have performed the best over the past week. However, Credit Suisse disagrees on this, as rate cuts are driven by slowing growth, and particularly as the slowdown is not yet reflected in consensus estimates or valuations. 70% of the Nifty EPS growth in FY14 is expected from financials, materials and autos.
“We therefore flag companies with: (1) high interest costs but some stability in profits (Jaiprakash Associates and United Spirits), or (2) low P/E (high earnings yield) and defensive characteristics: NTPC, Coal India, HCL Technologies and NHPC,” said the investment bank.
For obvious and justified reasons most Indian observers are concerned about the pace of deterioration in India’s current account. As a result of nothing short of a dramatic deterioration in the trade deficit, the Current Account Deficit (CAD) in first nine months of FY13 has been at a record 5.4% of GDP. The increase in trade deficit has primarily been due to stagnating exports, whereas imports have continued to pick up.
While this is indeed of concern, Credit Suisse notes that since the global financial crisis, as consumption of the developed economies of the western world has slowed, that of EMs has been stepping up. Current accounts of most large emerging markets have deteriorated since then, and India is not the worst of the lot both in terms of absolute CAD as a percentage of GDP and the change since 2007.
One of the important reasons for the trade deficit expanding in the last three years was that India’s GDP growth remained strong and growth elsewhere slumped. While the slump globally seems to have stopped worsening, the dramatic slowdown in India’s GDP, and particularly that of consumption, puts downward pressure on trade deficit.
Much time and energy is spent on analysing India’s oil and gold imports. They are indeed an important part of India’s import basket. However, a meaningful part of the oil and gold imported by India is for re-export post value-addition. Once adjusted for petrochemical and jewellery exports, the contribution of oil and gold becomes less important. Further, with the economy slowing sharply and the increases in diesel prices finally transmitting the impact of high global crude prices, oil consumption growth has slowed to 0-1%. In fact, non-oil, non-gold imports have been falling YoY since July 2012.
Imports of capital equipment are down in the first 10 months of FY13 Credit Suisse expects them to stay weak for several years, somewhat similar to the trend seen in the last cycle. Similarly, while the much reviled electronics imports have indeed risen quite sharply, the investment bank does not expect them to be immune to the slowdown in discretionary consumption currently underway in India. Cell phones are almost a third of electronics imports, and in value terms high- /mid-end phones form almost a third of this. It is also noteworthy that cell phones globally are seeing ASP compression—a trend that should apply to India as well. Similarly, PC/notebook sales, a sixth of electronics imports, should also see price compression with steady volumes.
Slowing exports have also helped exacerbate the trade deficit, especially once we remove petrochemical and jewellery exports. Of this reduced set, engineering goods, agriculture and pharmaceuticals are 63% of exports—the share of textiles has been falling steadily.
While engineering goods exports have fallen so far, the unconvincing part of the rise in engineering goods exports two years back seems to have already corrected, obviating further correction: both exports of non-ferrous metals ($2 billion in FY10 to $9 billion in FY11, has corrected back to $3 billion), and of non-transport capital goods ($10 billion in FY10 to $20 billion in FY12, now $15 billion). Within engineering goods, exports of transport equipment (cars, two-wheelers, trucks, tyres and other auto components) continue to rise. Similarly, chemicals exports are likely to improve further.
According to Credit Suisse, exports of agricultural commodities have continued to rise, and are expected to hold up: this is a diversified basket, improving sustainability. The sharp fall in the rupee in the last one and half to two years has improved competitiveness (there is usually a lag in the economy reacting to it), and increasing awareness among farmers has improved surpluses that can be exported.
While trade deficits have indeed disappointed, lack of acceleration in ‘invisibles’ (trade related items that affect flow of currency but cannot be seen physically crossing the border—software exports, remittances, etc) has been as big a concern. On a four-quarter rolling basis growth has been tepid since the financial crisis.
There are three major moving parts to ‘invisibles’: software exports, remittances and business income—the first two are positive, as in they are inflows, whereas the third is an outflow—income repatriated from India by multinational companies (MNCs) in the form of royalties or dividends.
As the base of software exports has risen, and in particular as the BPO industry has slowed due to competition from other emerging markets such as the Philippines, growth of service exports has slowed. Credit Suisse believes that the rise of captive units, which effectively price their services in rupee terms, has also hurt growth.
According to the investment bank, remittances have also slowed of late, but over the past two decades their growth has rarely been in the negative territory for a long time. On the third element of invisibles, i.e. income repatriation, as multinational (MNC) companies have increased their presence in India, there has been a sharp surge: this trend is unlikely to reverse anytime soon, especially as there is a rapid increase in MNC activity, and in the royalties charged by them from their Indian subsidiaries.
The three parts put together imply a flattish trajectory for ‘invisibles’ in the coming quarters.
With trade deficit starting to narrow at the margin, this implies the CAD should start to shrink. Looking at data for 30 EM countries over the past 30 years, it is clear that the CAD does not deteriorate by more than 200 basis points for sustained periods (in 87% of the cases, in fact such a deterioration was limited to one year only) after increasing by more than two percentage points of GDP, India’s CAD is expected to narrow as well.
The market is very positive on the fall in prices of crude oil and gold. Given the frequent commentary on the country’s over-reliance on the two this is not surprising. The decline does help bring down CAD all else being the same. But the net effect on the currency is likely to be limited, as “all else” is unlikely to remain the same, according to the Credit Suisse report.
In particular, a fall in oil prices is likely to reduce the surplus generation in oil supplying countries, and that could affect some of the capital flows. The enthusiasm on the fall in gold price helping India is already being dented by the anecdotal surge in gold buying as consumers try to “bottom-fish”—so much so that some stores are running out of inventory.
This may not continue, and is likely happening because of the coming marriage season,
but does minimise the impact of the decline in gold prices.