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Sebi focus on Reliance Cap

Anindita Dey & Janaki Krishnan in Mumbai | December 16, 2004 08:58 IST

The Securities and Exchange Board of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has called for financial details of Reliance Capital, the Reliance group's non-banking finance company, in the wake of the ongoing feud between the Ambani brothers.

As joint regulators of Systemically Important Financial Institutions, capital market watchdog Sebi and banking industry regulator RBI had already identified Reliance Capital as one of the important financial conglomerates, banking sources said.

The Reliance 'ownership issue'

The Reliance spokesman was not available for comments on Sebi asking the Reliance group for the financial details of Reliance Capital. Sebi sources said the capital market regulator had asked for "some data" in the first week of December but downplayed the whole matter.

While officials described it as a "routine development", sources at both the regulators said they needed to examine certain financial details "over and above the existing data which have been provided earlier".

Reliance Capital is a listed NBFC and operates a mutual fund under its subsidiary, Reliance Asset Management Company.

Banking sources said the regulators had specifically sought data on Reliance Capital's exposure to companies within and outside the Reliance group and high-value transactions with such companies.

According to these sources, an analysis of the data is important as regulators feel that the family feud could lead to delays in or postponement of projects or the group's commercial ventures, which ultimately may have a bearing on the cash flow of banks.

Most banks have a large exposure to the Reliance group as most of the group companies are triple A-rated companies with sound economic fundamentals. The banks recently reviewed their exposure to the Reliance group but found that the family feud had not affected the group's loan-servicing ability.

Meanwhile, the inter-regulatory committee for special monitoring of financial conglomerates is understood to have identified various corporate groups like the Tatas, the Birlas, the Bajajs and NBFCs like GE Capital and Sahara as SIFI.

The committee consists of nominees of the three market regulators -- Sebi , RBI and the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority . The objective is to monitor entities that are deemed to be "too big to fail".

S&P may review RIL rating

The rift between the Ambani brothers has the potential to weaken the Reliance group's businesses, except oil and petrochemicals, according to Standard & Poor's.

The change in strategic direction and business plans as a consequence of the differences between the two brothers would warrant a review of RIL's ratings, S&P said on Wednesday. The impact on the group companies would be particularly on its "day-to-day operations", the agency said.

However, the outlook on Reliance's local currency rating is stable. On the liquidity of the Reliance group, S&P said it was "weak". "In the event of a default by Reliance, recovery prospects on its debt are low in the near- to medium-term."

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