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Rediff.com  » Business » Some brickbats, some bouquets for ex-Sebi boss

Some brickbats, some bouquets for ex-Sebi boss

Last updated on: February 17, 2011 15:52 IST

Some brickbats, some bouquets for ex-Sebi boss

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There were bouquets and brickbats for Chandrasekhar Bhaskar Bhave, as his three-year term as Indian capital market's most powerful person ended on Thursday.

An electrical engineer by education and an IAS officer of 1975 batch, Bhave engineered and administered numerous changes in Indian markets ever since taking charge as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India on February 17, 2008.

He would be succeeded by U K Sinha, also an IAS officer and chief of UTI Mutual Fund.

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Image: C B Bhave.
Photographs: Reuters
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Some brickbats, some bouquets for ex-Sebi boss

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The steps taken by the market regulator during his tenure generated two extreme kind of reactions -- from being termed as very much investor-friendly to being called trespassing into other authorities' territory.

Even as Bhave himself went on to say that it was the institution that mattered and not the person heading it, there are not many takers for this view, including both his supporters and detractors.

Still, speaking after his last board meeting at Sebi on February 7, Bhave said: "Chairmen come and go, but Sebi remains there."

While those finding his steps as pro-market and pro-investors said that Bhave brought to fore the real power lying with Sebi, others who accused him of being anti-market competition and pro-favourites also charged him of becoming larger than the institution.

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Image: Sebi Bhavan.

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Still, there are not many people in the market who were willing to speak on-record on their views about Bhave's three-year term as Sebi chief.

There are speculations that he might be named by the government on some high-profile panels on financial sector regulations and their views about Bhave could boomerang on them, they concurred.

However, one of the few among vocal opponents of Bhave's policies, the MCX-Financial Technologies group did not mince any words in criticising the outgoing Sebi chief.

"In the case of MCX-SX, Sebi Chairman chose to sit on the MCX-SX proposal for more than seven months. During this period, neither Sebi Chairman nor Sebi responded to a single letter that the Exchange wrote to Sebi," MCX-SX MD & chief executive officer Joseph Massey said.

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Image: Bombay Stock Exchange.

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Massey was referring to an application by MCX-SX for Sebi's nod to start a full-fledged stock exchange, which was eventually rejected by the regulator and the matter is currently in courts.

Massey said Bhave was incorrect in interpreting that MCX-SX unnecessarily rushed to the Mumbai High Court when its application was being considered by Sebi.

"No Regulatee will take its Regulator to court unless there are strong compelling reasons," Massey added.

"Should the Regulator be given unlimited time in which to take a decision?

This question is all the more relevant given the fact that firstly, the temporary clearance given to MCX-SX was only up to mid-September, 2010 and secondly, the Exchange was bleeding heavily due to the non-competitive actions of the Competition," MCX-SX chief said.

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"MCX-SX was forced by Sebi's inaction to knock on the doors of the Court as it had enough evidence to conclude that Sebi was biased against it in order to help the competition," he added.

Accusing Sebi of showing a partisan approach in favour of a leading bourse, Massey said: "Incidentally, it is interesting to note that out of the three national level Exchanges, two have felt that they are being discriminated against by Sebi and accorded step-motherly treatment.

"The third exchange is quite happy with Sebi. People can draw their own inferences from these facts."

Massey, however, declined to comment on the matter related to Sebi's rejection of MCX-SX application, saying the bourse had "appealed against the Sebi order and the matter is sub-judice".

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MCX-SX was not the only entity to cry foul over Sebi's action and Sahara group also accused Sebi of acting outside its mandate and trespassing into territories of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

Both these corporate groups as also, a few other entities, issued advertisements in newspapers highlighting their plight in wake of different Sebi actions.

However, those in support of steps taken by Sebi under Bhave said the market regulator did not differentiate between big and small entities and took all its actions fearlessly during the past three years.

They list out actions taken with regard to big entities such as Anil Ambani group, MCX-FTIL, Sahara group, as also a host of small and big brokers, mutual funds, etc and said this has not been the case in recent times.

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One of the proposed move even angered insurance regulator Irda and the Finance Ministry also appeared unhappy over this.

Some of the moves such as raising the investment limit for retail investors in an initial public offering to Rs 200,000 from Rs 100,000 were lauded as highly beneficial to investors.

Besides, some of the Sebi decisions for mutual funds, such as ban on entry load, were also criticised by the fund houses for negatively impacting their businesses, although these were lapped up as pro-investor policies.

Initially, there were expectations that Bhave might get an extension, as is the case with many directors at regulatory authorities, but later it was said that he might not be interested in that and his spats with other regulators could have further spoilt his chances.



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