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Sebi starts probe against Sun Pharma, to also reopen insider trading case





Mumbai : The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has initiated an inquiry into the affairs of pharma major Sun Pharmaceutical Industries on the basis of a whistle-blower complaint, said regulatory sources.

The sources said the market regulator was in receipt of a 150-page letter in which the whistle-blower accused the company of committing corporate governance and tax-related lapses, besides other securities market-related violations.

When contacted, a Sun Pharma spokesperson said, “We have not been contacted by Sebi in this regard.”

Sebi, according to sources, also plans to reopen an insider trading case against the company and its promoters that was settled through the consent mechanism.

Sun Pharma, its Managing Director Dilip Shanghvi, and nine others had settled the insider trading probe, paying Rs 1.8 million against the settlement charges in 2017.

While Sebi had not disclosed details of the case, it was probably linked to the acquisition of Ranbaxy by Sun Pharma from Japanese drugmaker Daiichi. The regulator had agreed to settle the proposed adjudication proceedings linked to the violation of the internal code of conduct for prevention of insider trading. No enforcement action was initiated for the alleged defaults.

Sebi starts probe against Sun Pharma, to also reopen insider trading case “The allegations raised by the whistle-blower are of serious nature. We will look into each one of them,” said a regulatory source.

Sources said Sebi had also taken cognisance of another note by Australia-based brokerage Macquarie on the faulty audit process and dubious practices used while raising funds through foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs). In 2004, Sun Pharma had launched a $225 million FCCB issue.

The foreign brokerage is learnt to have raised concerns about selecting a small-time London-based firm, Jermyn Capital Partners, to manage the issue. The Indian arm of this entity is believed to have had links with stock brokers Ketan Parekh and Dharmesh Doshi, both of whom had come under scrutiny for the market crash of 2002.

Besides, Sebi has referred the tax-related allegations to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).

Earlier this week, the Sun Pharma stock touched a six-month low after a foreign brokerage raised concerns about corporate governance practices at the drug major. On November 28, the stock fell 3 per cent during the day, but recovered partially to close at Rs 486.35 apiece on the BSE, down 1.47 per cent. On Friday, the stock closed at Rs 492.3, up 1.84 per cent from the previous close.



RBI board meet today to focus on liquidity in financial system




New Delhi :The first central board meeting of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday with Shaktikanta Das as governor is expected to focus on the liquidity situation in the financial system.

The Centre’s proposal to call for governance reform in the RBI could, however, take a back seat, a source privy to the development said. “The governance issue (in the RBI) no longer holds immediate importance,” the source said.

The board may consider forming a committee to deliberate on the governance structure in RBI. Earlier, the central government nominees on the RBI board — Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar and Economic Affairs Secretary S C Garg — had moved a proposal to consider governance reforms in RBI.

With a new governor at the helm, the government may adopt a wait-and-watch approach before pushing for governance reforms in RBI. The government was upset with the way RBI took certain decisions, during former governor Urjit Patel’s tenure, in “closed door” meetings, including new norms for resolution of stressed assets set by the central bank in February, popularly known as the February 12 circular, according to sources.

The new governor is likely to take stock of the liquidity situation, especially related to non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), which showed signs of stress recently. The government has petitioned the RBI to take measures to boost liquidity for NBFCs but the RBI is not in favour of a systemic intervention at present.

The board will be apprised of a recent decision taken by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Patel on the structure and the mandate of the committee to review the RBI’s economic capital framework.

Sources said former RBI governor Bimal Jalan would head the panel and former RBI deputy governor Rakesh Mohan would be the co-chair. After the panel is constituted, it is expected to submit its report in 90 days, the source said.

“The chairman of the panel has to agree to the mandate first. The committee will be notified soon,” the source added. The panel may not hold discussions on the revaluation reserves held by the RBI in its ‘currency and gold revaluation reserves’, it is learnt. It accounted for over 70 per cent out of the RBI’s total reserves at Rs 9.6 trillion at the end of June 2018.

The finance ministry is of the view that RBI has ‘excess capital’ in its reserves and that can be transferred to the central government.

The decision to form a panel was taken in the nine-hour long board meeting on November 19.

“The agenda items from the previous meeting will carry forward. There were discussions only on three to four issues,” the source said.

The RBI’s central board will also take note of the Board for Financial Supervision (BFS) meeting chaired by Patel on December 6. The BFS was supposed to discuss the government’s proposal to bring some public sector banks out of the prompt corrective action (PCA) along with revision of rules. However, the BFS didn’t hold discussions on it and instead reviewed the financial position of all public sector banks, sources said.

The government has proposed “drastic changes” in the rules framed to re-tune the composition of three committees of the RBI: Board for Financial Supervision (BFS), the Board for Payment and Settlement Systems (BPSS) and the Committee of the Central Board (CCB). All three committees are chaired by the RBI Governor.

The government wanted more independent directors in forums, including the BFS, and had pushed for increasing the quorum in case of all the CCB and the BFS, sources said. In return, RBI had also exchanged its notes with board members suggesting only minor tweaks in the norms.

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Come Jan 1, you’ll have to pay up to Rs 40,000 more for Tata Motors’ cars

Press Trust of India



New Delhi : Tata Motors Thursday said it will hike prices of its passenger vehicles across models by up to Rs 40,000 from January 1, 2019, to offset the impact of rising input costs and increase in fuel prices.

The company’s passenger vehicles portfolio ranges from entry-level small car Nano to the premium SUV Hexa, which are currently priced between Rs 236,000 and Rs 1.797 million (ex-showroom Delhi).

The company will launch its new premium SUV Harrier in January.

“The changing market conditions, rising input costs and various external economic factors have compelled us to consider this price increase,” Tata Motors President of Passenger Vehicles Business Unit Mayank Pareek said in a statement.

The company would be increasing prices of its entire passenger vehicles range by up to Rs 40,000 (depending on the model and city), starting January 1, 2019, the statement added.

Tata Motors joins other companies such as Maruti Suzuki, Toyota Kirloskar, BMW and Isuzu, which have also said they would increase prices of their vehicles from January, citing impact of increase in commodity prices and foreign exchange rates.

Pareek said despite the price hike, Tata Motors is “optimistic on maintaining our growth trajectory in the coming year on the back of our robust portfolio”.

“Early 2019 will also mark the entrance of our most awaited SUV the Harrier,” he said.

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Salary delays causing loan EMI default, stress: Air India’s pilot body




Mumbai: Air India’s union representing narrow body pilots alleged a majority of its members were defaulting on bank EMIs due to the salary delays which was also putting them under a lot of “stress”.

In a letter to AI chairman and managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) also claimed the loss-making carrier had only partially paid the pilots for October as they were yet to receive the flying allowance, which constitutes 80 per cent of their total monthly salary.

Notably, the flying allowance to the pilots at state- run airline is disbursed after 60 days.

“There is already a backlog of one month flying allowance. This unspecified delay has impaired our financial planning, especially (pilots are) defaulting on loan EMI… majority of us have defaulted on bank loans and credit card payments while the rest had to arrange funds by taking further loans,” ICPA said in the letter.

Air India spokesperson was, however, not available for comments on the issue.

Stating that despite several requests in the past not to bifurcate salary and flying allowance for pilots, the ICPA said, “It (our request) is being ignored. We are awaiting flying Allowance for the work done in the month of October.”

This financial problem has made it extremely difficult for the pilots to work “stress free”, it added.

“Stress jeopardises decision-making relevance and cognitive functioning which is fatal to flight safety,” the ICPA said in the letter.

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