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Subhash Chandra apologizes, as Zee Group shares crash on media report of money laundering post-demo

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Dr. Subhash Chandra

New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) In an “open letter” on Friday, Subhash Chandra, Chairman, ZEE & Essel Group, apologized to bankers, NBFCs & mutual funds for “not having lived up to their expectations” hours after Zee Group suffered a loss in market capitalisation to the tune of Rs 14,000 crore after the shares of its entertainment arm tanked over 30 per cent in the wake of a media report that said its promoter company Essel Group was allegedly involved in money laundering post-demonetisation.

“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… I am not indicating that there are no mistakes done from my end, and as always, I am willing to face the consequences,” Chandra said in the letter.

Assuring stakeholders that he is “not running away from the core issue” and that he will do his best to repay each person, he said he would like to express his “deepest apologies” to his financial supporters.

The shares on the BSE lost up to 33 per cent during the intra-day trade but closed 26 per cent lower at Rs 319.35.

The shake-up in Zee shares occurred after the report claimed that the SFIO was probing a company, Nityank Infrapower, for deposits of over Rs 3,000 crore made just after demonetisation that was announced on November 8, 2016.

It also claimed that Nityak Infrapower and a group of alleged shell firms had carried out financial transactions that involved a few companies associated with the Subhash Chandra-led Essel Group between 2015 and 2017.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises shares fell nearly 31 per cent to Rs 299.92 per share on the National Stock Exchange. It was the worst day for the stock for a single day fall since 1999.

The media report also said that Nityank also played a crucial role in a large business deal between the Videocon and Essel groups in November, 2016.

Essel maintains that Nityank is an independent firm, while Videocon alleges otherwise.

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Markets open on positive note

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Sensex Nifty Equity

Mumbai, Feb 20: The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a positive note during the morning session of the trade.

The BSE Sensex opened at 35,564.93 before touching a high of 35,581.14 and a low of 35,520.21.

It was trading at 35,528.69 up by 176.08 points or 0.50 per cent from its Tuesday’s close at 35,352.61.

On the other hand, the broader 50-scrip Nifty at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 10,655.45 after closing at 10,604.35.

The Nifty is trading at 10,656.25 in the morning.

IANS

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PF funds’ investment in IL&FS bonds have no government guarantee: Finance Ministry

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IL&FS Financial Service

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The provident and pension fund trusts that invested in the IL&FS bonds now fear loss of money as the debt-ridden company’s bonds are unsecured debt, and the Finance Ministry says superannuated bonds do not carry any government guarantee and all such instruments have to face all market-related risks.

“Since these are investments in bonds, the government does not ensure any guarantee on them as such and if these are invested in stock markets, they carry the market risks as applicable. It is between the bond issuer and bond holders…,” the Finance Ministry said in response to IANS queries.

Thousands of crores of money of more than 15 lakh employees of both public and private sector companies have exposure to IL&FS bonds.

However, queries sent to the EPFO Commissioner and Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar remained unanswered.

Over 50 funds that manage retirement benefits of over 15 lakh employees have exposure to IL&FS. PF trusts of state electricity boards, public sector undertakings (PSUs) and banks are among them. The provident and pension fund trusts have filed intervening applications in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) stating that they stand to lose all the money since the bonds are under unsecured debt.

Usually, retirement funds have a low-risk appetite and invest in “AAA” rated bonds (which IL&FS bonds used to be once upon a time) and get assured returns with low interest rates.

The worries of pension and provident fund trusts come from the classification of IL&FS profiling its companies as to which can meet the dues obligations. Many important trust managing funds of PSUs like MMTC, IOC, Hudco, SBI and IDBI are among those filing petitions. From private sector, HUL and Asian Paints are among the petitioners.

IL&FS is currently under resolution process at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The process will decide under Section 53 of the IBC the order of priority for distribution of proceeds of the process.

The beleaguered company has informed the NCLT that of the 302 entities in the group, 169 are Indian companies, out of which only 22 are emerging as those which can meet all obligations (green), while 10 firms can pay to only secured creditors (Amber). There are 38 companies of IL&FS (red) which cannot meet any obligations of payment, and 120 entities are still being assessed.

These PF and provident funds trusts are worried that if payment is limited to secured creditors, then only financial creditors like banks will receive the dues while unsecured bond-holders will be get any payments.

IL&FS bonds attracted investments by PF trusts as it had the shareholding of SBI and LIC giving its bonds the comfort factor.

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Sachin Bansal invests Rs 650 crore in Ola

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Sachin-Bansal

Bengaluru, Feb 19 (IANS) Internet entrepreneur and Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal has invested Rs 650 crore, or about $92 million, in ride-hailing platform Ola in his personal capacity as investor, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

This investment is part of Ola’s larger Series J funding round. It is also the largest investment by an individual in Ola to date, it said.

“Ola is one of India’s most promising consumer businesses that is creating deep impact and lasting value for the ecosystem. On one hand, they have emerged as a global force in the mobility space and on the other, they continue to build deeper for various needs of a billion Indians through their platform, becoming a trusted household name today,” Bansal said.

He further said he has known Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal as entrepreneur and friend over the years and that he has great respect for what he and the team at Ola have built in 8 years.

“We are extremely thrilled to have Sachin onboard Ola as an investor. Sachin is an icon of entrepreneurship and his experience of building one of India’s most respected businesses ground up, is unparalleled,” Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said.

Ola integrates city transportation for customers and drivers onto a mobile technology platform ensuring convenient, transparent, safe and quick service fulfilment, the statement added.

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