The Purnendu Chatterjee group on Wednesday moved the Company Law Board over West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation's decision to allot a 7.5 per cent stake in Haldia Petrochemicals to Indian Oil Corporation. The Chatterjee group holds 61 per cent stake in Haldia Petrochemicals.
The Chatterjee group approached the law board on Wednesday, taking recourse to Section 397 of the Companies Act 1956 which deals with mismanagement and oppression. IOC had issued a Rs 150-crore (Rs 1.5 billion) cheque, dated February 18, to WBIDC for the 7.5 per cent stake.
While fresh shares have been allotted to IOC at par (Rs 10 per share), the Chatterjee group has made an offer of Rs 29 per share for hiking its stake in Haldia.
Accepting the petition, the CLB asked the West Bengal government to furnish details on IOC's cheque and transfer of shares by the company. The case is listed for further hearing on Thursday.
"If the share transfer has been done, it will be subject to my order," CLB chairman S Balasubramanium said. The counsel for the Chatterjee group alleged breach of trust by the West Bengal government.
The counsel referred to a memorandum of understanding dated May 3, 1994 and other instances which, he claimed, showed that the state government was to disinvest its stake in favour of the Chatterjee group before it could issue fresh shares to a third party.
"We will not object to the share issue to IOC but the government has to disinvest 50-60 per cent of its stake in favour of the Chatterjee group," the counsel said during the course of the hearing.
As per the shareholding pattern (before the allotment of shares to IOC), WBIDC had a 36 per cent stake in Haldia Petrochemicals, the Tatas owned 3 per cent and the Chatterjee group, 61 per cent.
The drama over the issue of fresh shares to IOC unfolded with the WBIDC on Wednesday encashing IOC's cheque. The transfer of shares has also been forwarded to the Registrar of Companies, Kolkata.At the hearing, the Chatterjee group counsel alleged that Haldia board approved the issue of shares to IOC after a resolution to this effect was passed by circulation without details attached.