Neither my family nor me are shareholders of ICICI Bank or Videocon.
- I do know the Kochhars only on a casual greeting basis when we came across each other on ‘Open & Speech Days’ at the School where our children studied. I did however 14 years ago, in and around 2004, meet up with Deepak Kochhar, at his request through a good common friend, at the Cricket Club of India Swimming Pool Cafe in Mumbai to explore the possibility of advising on his Family’s Equity Portfolio. It did not happen as we disagreed on how India was taking off. I had opined that the next few years would be great & they were, with GDP at 9% & Markets zooming in the 2005-2007 period. There was no further meeting after that
- In the 1990’s I had a private audience for just five minutes with Mr Dhoot of Videocon, at his request, in his car after he had attended a Rotary Meet in Ahmednagar to hear my address. It was a courtesy brief engagement
- In the past I have, at the request & invitation of ICICI Bank, conducted a two day Securities Allocation & Portfolio Management Training Workshop in Mumbai for their Private Wealth Management Clients Group Managers from across India
On Kochhars & Videocon Link Controversy is the ICICI Bank Board itself an NPA?
Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion
It’s always got to be Substance over Form, so we’re drilled into, while studying for Professional Accounting & Auditing Qualifications
So let me state that the Kochhars & the Dhoots of Videocon go back a long way into the 1990s… more on this later below
So while the Form may be legit, albeit through a chronological maze of shareholdings changes & transactions, the substance of these have come into public glare recently on the alleged quid pro quo between Kochhars & Dhoots
While it remains to be established by investigative agencies & SEBI on any violation of disclosure norms & any conflict of interest and this quid pro quo between the Kochhars & Videocon on the Consortium Loan of Rs 3250 crs extended to Videocon by ICICI Bank in 2012, I raise this question to the ICICI Board as am concerned & angry to say the least, with this ‘Sense of Entitlement’ that continues to prevail in the upper echelons of our Institutional, Banking, Corporate, Political & Bureaucratic World. There are figuratively & often even literally Marriages of Convenience in these circles to strengthen the nexus. Perhaps a Competitor of ICICI Bank, like alleged even in controversies before, is again at play here… but the allegations are serious enough & the Bank’s Board has to be seen to really get behind all this before giving a clean chit. The Perception is that they are not doing so & the intent for this comes into question… more so after the response of the Bank’s Chairman on the current controversy to the Indian Express raises more questions than answered.
ACT ~ Accountability, Conscience & Transparency
For me the Simple Question in this Matter that begs an answer is this :
Is ‘D’ a ‘Duh’ to give & forgive Rs 64 crs ?
Far from it, so there has to be more to it
Let me spell out the chronological scenario to put it in perspective “
- Why would ‘D’ of ‘V’ in Jan 2009, within 20 days of his entering into a 50:50 JV ‘N’ with ‘K’, completely sell of his 50% in ‘N’ to ‘S’ at par & also sell of at par his own private company ‘S’ holding of 9990 shares of FV Rs 10 to a ‘third party’ (this would be his associate ‘M’), as he defends his actions to Indian Express stating “… relinquishing my right, title and interests in the said shares, giving up control and management of Supreme Energy and completely disassociating myself from both the Companies all on the same day”?
- Why would then ‘D’ of ‘V’ give Rs 64 crs to Company ‘S’ from his listed ‘V’ or any other of his entities to give to ‘N’ alleged to be a Loan which was then converted to an allotment of zero coupon Fully Convertible Debentures allotted in March 2010 & finally converted to shares in March 2016?
- As on March 31, 2015 ‘S’ held 47496 shares in’N’ apart from the Rs 64 crs FCDs. These shares should be the 24996 shares sold by V to S in Jan 2009 as above + 22500 shares sold by ‘P’ owned by K Family to ‘S’ in June 2009
- In April 2012, ‘I’ Bank in a consortium extended Rs 3250 crs lending facility to the ‘V’ Group of ‘D’
- In September 2012 ‘PE’ Trust of the K Family purchased at par FV 10 all 9990 shares of ‘S’ from ‘M’ (See above to recollect… the same shares sold in Jan 2009 by ‘D’ to ‘M’ at par)… this gave ‘K’ Family ownership of ‘S’
- In April 2013 the ‘PE’ Trust of K Family subscribed at par Rs 10 to a further 80000 shares of ‘S’ which held held 47496 shares in ‘N’ apart from the Rs 64 crs FCDs in ‘N’. This is the @ Rs 9 lakhs Equity investment in ‘S’ by the ‘PE’ Trust of K that is the accusation levelled at ‘D’ & ‘K’ as being a pittance of a price for handing over ‘S’ to ‘K’ Family’s ‘PE’ Trust
- So as it stands we need to question & investigate the status of the original Rs 64 crs given by the listed ‘V’ or a ‘D’ Entity or any other Entity to ‘D’s originally owned private company ‘S’. Was it a loan to ‘S’? & if so has it been returned ? or was it an investment in Equity in ‘S’? which then does not have to be returned… of course this money was in turn given by ‘S” to ‘N’ as above… this probably also explains why ‘D’ of ‘V’ sold of his 9990 shares in ‘S’ in Jan 2009 itself to an associate ‘M’ so as not to disclose the transaction as a related party in the books of listed ‘V’ when ‘V’ is alleged to have later in 2009/10 extended Rs 64 crs to ‘S’… I went through the 2009/10 Annual Report of ‘V’ & there is no disclosure of any such Loan or Equity Investment in ‘S’…. so was it routed through another company of the ‘V’ group or one of ‘D’s private companies or was it some other entity ?
There are other Alphabets in play too (these are elaborated later below), but the above should suffice to conclude that :
- Rs 64 crs invested in ‘N’ by ‘S’ in 2009/10 finally through FCDs allotted in March 2010 by ‘N’ was converted to Equity in ‘N’ in March 2016 & as of date both ‘N’ & ‘S’ are owned by the K Family…. so ‘N’ does not need to repay this to ‘S’…. but what about ‘S’ having to repay this to listed ‘V’ or any other ‘D’ related entity or any other entity if it was indeed given as a loan?
- The ‘PE’ Trust of the K Family bought out ‘S’ at a pittance only in September 2012 after ‘I’ had sanctioned & disbursed consortium lending of Rs 3250 crs to the ‘V’ Group of ‘D’
To jog your memory there is an age old link between the Kochhars & Videocon even before they initiated this 50:50 JV in 2008 in NuPower Renewables
Did you know ?
- The Kochhar Brothers, Rajiv & Deepak ran a listed company in the late 1990’s called Credential Finance Ltd. Rajiv was the Executive Chairman while Deepak was the Managing Director. It was last traded in December 2001 on BSE & BSE Records show it as compulsory delisted only last year on August 23, 2017…such a delisting,as different from a voluntary delisting, as per SEBI directives involves barring promoters from raising monies from capital markets for 10 years besides other stipulations. It was incorporated in 1992 as per MCA Records & till October 1, 1996 it’s name was Bloomfield Builders Ltd. In 1997 it’s Equity Capital was Rs 5.63 crs of Face Value 10 & it had declared a 6% dividend for 1996/7. If I remember correctly, the Shareholders included many top industrialist groups at the time had subscribed to shares at obscene premiums at the time when Income Tax Regulations to justify Issue Prices & Valuations were not in existence (these came in 2011/12). Do I need to spell out why ! Videocon directly or indirectly held a stake & it is important to note that Venugopal Dhoot’s right hand man & group financial advisor, S K Shelgikar was on the Board of Credential Financial. I recollect Credential had even sponsored a Squash Tournament as the Kochhars were avid Squash Fans & Players at the National Level. Rajiv has since promoted the Avista Advisory Group based in Singapore & India while Deepak has set up the NuPower Renewables Group
SEBI’s earlier ‘Panga’ with Videocon & Hindustan Lever & its Directors
In 1998, the infamous late Harshad Mehta of the 1991/92 Scam, through his Damayanti Group, had played up shares of BPL, Videocon & Sterlite in alleged connivance with their managements. Top Brokers too were involved as was the Shriram Mutual Fund. SEBI Chairman DR Mehta at the time in April 2001 had passed an order barring Videocon International for Three Years from raising Monies from the Public in the Capital Markets & to pursue prosecution of the Directors, Mr V N Dhoot, Mr S K Shelgikar & Mr S M Hegde. They had appealed to the Securities Appelate Tribunal (SAT) who set aside the order in 2002