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Lenders now want Rajus out of Maytas Infra

BS Reporter in Mumbai | February 07, 2009 12:20 IST

IL&FS, which, along with IFCI and Sicom, had extended loans to the Raju family against shares of Maytas Infra, has asked the government to supersede the board of the Hyderabad-based company.

Further, it wants the Securities & Exchange Board of India to relax the open offer norms, like it did in the case of Satyam Computer Services [Get Quote], so that entities can acquire over 15 per cent stake and revive the company.

Under the takeover code, an entity making an open offer to acquire 15 per cent or more equity has to do it at a price higher than either the average for the past six months or the average for the previous two weeks. Between the two prices, the higher price is used as the benchmark.

In Satyam case, where founder and former chairman B Ramalinga Raju had admitted to fraud, Sebi has said it would provide a special dispensation where a different price mechanism would be adopted to encourage the company to be acquired.

The Rajus had pledged nearly a third of their equity holding in Maytas Infra to the three financial institutions to raise funds. While non-banking finance companies, including an IL&FS arm, had managed to offload the shares of Satyam, which were also pledged, the lenders to Maytas, which includes IFCI and Sicom, have been unable to sell the shares as the 5 per cent lower circuit filter has been hit everyday since January 9. About 45,000 shares have been sold since then.

The lenders to Maytas Infra have also suggested that Sebi should instruct stock exchanges to lift the 5 per cent circuit filter, which is coming into play.

On January 7, Raju had admitted to fudging Satyam's accounts and spoke of non-existent deposits. With the promoters unable to provide additional shares or funds after the trigger price was breached, IFCI transferred the ownership of the pledged shares to itself as they could not be sold in the market. Due to the circuit, potential suitors are unable to buy the company's stock. Sources said the problem had been aggravated due to the adverse conditions in the market.

"Now, Maytas Infra is on a par with Satyam and is as good as a sick company. To protect its shareholders, which include retail investors, the government needs to intervene," said an IL&FS executive.

On December 16, Raju's role first came under scrutiny after Satyam's board approved a proposal to acquire Maytas Infra and Maytas Properties, an unlisted company, where Raju's sons are on the board. Due to the opposition from institutional investors, Satyam dropped the proposal within hours.

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