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Sangh backs Zee in its fight for survival

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Dr. Subhash Chandra

New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) With Zee Group shares being pummelled on the bourses as news of it being financially imperilled since it has exposure to various lenders, unable to service borrowings and had pledged shares at a promoter-level started doing the rounds, sources close to developments have now revealed that the Sangh (RSS) and top functionaries in the government have closed ranks behind Zee Group promoter Subhash Chandra.

He will be given time to complete all financial commitments by executing the sale of his flagship Zee Entertainment, something that he has already announced so that all debtors are paid to a minutiae.

Chandra, a Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana, is politically connected with the present dispensation and his proximity to the top echelons of the RSS is also well known and documented. It is believed that he has found succour and solace with the Sangh which believes that Zee Group is a national asset with operations spread across the globe. As a national asset, a position has been taken by the Sangh to ring fence it.

For a few days last week there was a run on Zee Group shares but lately the blood letting has subsided. On Wednesday, with a rising tide lifting more or less all boats – Zee Group frontliners – Zee Entertainment closed at Rs 388.95, up Rs 23.60, Dish TV closed at 27.95, up Rs 4.90 and Essel Propack closed at Rs 110.40, up Rs 2.30.

Zee was first off the block when the broadcasting revolution took place in India, launching on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday October 2, 1992. It now has 17 international feeds which cater to the diaspora and beyond across the world.

Subhash Chandra, Chairman of ZEE and Essel Group, in an open letter last week said that certain “negative forces” attacked the stock of Zee Entertainment to sabotage the company’s strategic sale process.

Furthermore, targeting certain pressure groups out to undermine him, he added that “I am extremely certain that there is no promoter in India Inc, who has dared to sell the jewel of his crown, to pay off the liabilities.

“While the process is still ongoing, there are some forces which are not willing to see us succeed… That said, I am not indicating that there are no mistakes done from my end, and as always, I am willing to face the consequences of the same. I assure you, that I am not running away from the core issue and will do my best to repay each and every person.”

The best time for the same, however, is difficult to be mentioned at this stage.

Chandra in an earlier interview had revealed that he used to “regularly attend shakha (RSS meetings) from 6th to 10th standard”, where the “pracharak (RSS functionary)” would “narrate mythological stories which instilled patriotism in us”.

Questioning “leaders and people discussing about RSS” without attending shakhas, Chandra said that as someone who has been a “swayamsevak (RSS member) since childhood” he could affirm “that the ideology of RSS is of nationalism and of taking the nation to the pinnacle of glory”.

Thanks to the time he’s spent in RSS shakhas, he declared “the natural feeling for nation, pride and continuous desire to take it forward are the values I have imbibed in those days of childhood”.

It is this sense of nationhood and nationalist pride that has won him many friends in the rightwing calculus and this may prevent his immediate failure from taking shape.

Equally, ZEE Group is steadfast in its plan to sell strategic stake in cash-rich Zee Entertainment by March 31. Global behemoths have evinced interest in buying content heavy Zee Entertainment and this is part of a larger Subhash Chandra plan to use the sale proceeds to pay off all his debts. There is great commitment to keep to this time table and while some of the global players have asked for more time because of the impending elections, the deal is clearly in the works.

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Key Indian equity market indices open in green

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sensex up

Mumbai, Feb 21: Taking a cue from global markets, the key Indian equity market indices on Thursday opened higher.

The Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which had closed at 35,756.26 on Wednesday, opened higher at 35,837 points.

Minutes into trading, it was quoting at 35,821.27, up by 65.01 points, or 0.18 per cent.

At the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the broader Nifty 50, which had closed at 10,735.45 on Wednesday, was quoting at 10,741.30, up by 5.85 points or 0.05 per cent.

As many as 34 stocks advanced in the Nifty50 index while 15 stocks declined and one remained unchanged. In BSE Sensex 18 stocks, including Tata Motors, ITC, Coal India were trading in green while 12 stocks, including Reliance, Maruti, HDFC Bank were trading in red.

The indices closed with handsome gains after struggling in the past sessions.

Adding to the positive momentum were the gains made by the rupee and healthy domestic investment which were supported by expectations that the US and China might resolve their trade tensions.

The Sensex was up by 403.65 points or 1.14 per cent at the Wednesday’s closing. In the day’s trade, the barometer 30-scrip sensitive index had touched a high of 35,797.11 and a low of 35,469.49. The Nifty, too was up by 131.10 points or 1.24 per cent.

On Thursday, Asian indices were showing mostly a positive trend. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was quoting in green, up by 0.35 per cent while Hang Seng was also trading in green, up by 0.48 per cent, South Korea’s Kospi was up by 0.05 per cent. China’s Shanghai Composite was also trading green, up by 0.39 per cent.

Overnight, Nasdaq closed in green, up by 0.03 per cent while FTSE 100 was also up by 0.69 per cent at the closing on Wednesday.

IANS

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IL&FS probe: ED files case, raids 6 places, seizes foreign cash worth Rs 6 lakh

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IL&FS Financial Service

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday seized foreign currency worth Rs 6 lakh after it carried out searches at six places in different cities in connection with a case of money laundering it registered against the former Chairman and directors of the IL&FS, which is facing debt obligations to the tune of about Rs 91,000 crore, officials said.

A senior ED official said multiple teams of the agency carried out searches in Mumbai, Delhi and Gurugram at the residential premises of Ravi Parthasarathy, former Chairman of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) Ltd, Hari Sankaran, VC and MD of subsidiaries of IL&FS group, Ramesh Bawa and some of the other former directors of the company.

“The ED recovered foreign currency to the tune of Rs 6 lakh and also seized some documents related to property,” the official said.

However, the ED official refused to share details on whose residence the foreign currency was seized.

Searches were also conducted at the company’s Mumbai office.

The agency official said the ED has registered a money laundering case over the charges of alleged cheating and forgery on part of IL&FS group and its managing committee during 2010-2018.

The ED’s action is on the basis of a case filed with the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing under several sections of the Indian Penal Code for criminal conspiracy and forgery on the complaint of Ashish Begwani, director of New Delhi-based Enso Infrastructure.

Earlier this year, an interim report by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) also highlighted that the top executives of the IL&FS used the Employee Welfare Trust for personal gains at the cost of the company by carrying forward amendments in trust contracts without the approval of the Board of Directors.

The infrastructure lender’s crisis came to light last year following a series of defaults by its group companies on their debt obligations which accumulated to the tune of about Rs 91,000 crore.

The company has defaulted on repayment of loans to SIDBI and along with its subsidiaries.

The debt crisis at the infrastructure lender came to light following a series of defaults by its group companies beginning September last year.

Last year in October, the Central government superseded the management of the beleaguered company via an NCLT order and appointed a six-member board led by Uday Kotak, MD and CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank, to restore its financial solvency.

Key public sector lenders and undertakings such as the LIC and the SBI have a 25.34 per cent and 6.42 per cent stake, respectively, in the firm. The credit crunch has led to a few of the company’s subsidiaries to default in servicing some inter-corporate deposits.

Consequent to defaults, significant impact was felt in the capital market on account of the contagion effect of the IL&FS problem, prompting the government to replace the Board.

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Sensex ends losing streak, ends 403 points higher

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Sensex Nifty Equity

Mumbai, Feb 20: A slight ease in crude oil prices along with value buying and a strong rupee aided the benchmark Sensex to snap its longest consecutive sessions fall in the last eight years on Wednesday.

Accordingly, the benchmark index closed with handsome gains of over 400 points while the Nifty50 jumped past the 10,700 mark after struggling in the past sessions.

Adding to the positive momentum were the gains made by the rupee and healthy domestic investment which were supported by expectations that the US and China may resolve their trade tensions.

“Positive global markets lifted the domestic market sentiments after 2 weeks of under performance. Dovish minutes from US Fed and resumption of dialogue between US and China added positive vibes to the global market,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.

“Strong inflows from DIIs, appreciation of rupee and value buying in mid and small caps helped the domestic market.”

The S&P BSE Sensex closed 403.65 points or 1.14 per cent higher at 35,756.26 from its previous close of 35,352.61, while the NSE Nifty50 ended 131.10 points or 1.24 per cent higher at 10,735.45.

Among the top gainer were Vedanta, which inched up 4.67 per cent, followed by Tata Steel, up 4.13 per cent. ONGC, NTPC and Yes Bank came next.

Sensex saw only four stocks ending in the red led by Hero Moto Corp, Hindustan Uniliver, Bajaj Auto and IndusInd Bank.

“During the penultimate hour, we saw emergence of strong buying interest, reclaiming 10,700 convincingly by adding more than 130 points to the bulls’ kitty,” said Sameet Chavan, Chief Analyst, Technical and Derivatives, Angel Broking.

Historically, Chavan said it had been observed that whenever index corrects for eight straight sessions without surpassing the previous day’s high, the ninth day becomes a reversal day or a bounce back day.

IANS

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