Sebi to decide on Bharti Airtel case in three months: SAT

Sebi to decide on Bharti Airtel case in three months: SAT

Market regulator Sebi today told its appellate tribunal that it would take a decision within three months on alleged violations in acquisition of shares by certain promoter entities of Bharti Airtel.

After hearing an appeal against Sebi, Bharti Airtel and three promoter group entities of the telecom firm, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) said in an order that the market regulator has agreed to arrive at a decision in the matter within three months.

"In view of the statement made by learned senior counsel on behalf of the respondent Board (Sebi) that the Board (Sebi) will arrive at a decision and communicate the same to the appellant within three months from today, the learned senior counsel appearing for the appellants does not press the appeal," SAT said.

The appeal was filed by one Arvind Gupta and Manish Lamba against Sebi, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Bharti Telecom Ltd, Pastel Ltd and Indian Continent Investment Ltd (ICIL).

Way back in 2009, Sebi had sought some clarifications from Bharti Airtel regarding promoter shareholding in the company in connection with acquisition of shares by some promoter group companies, including ICIL, between 2007 and 2008.

The minority shareholders had approached SAT earlier also on this issue and Sebi had
said it was looking into it.

In its filings with the stock exchanges, including in the latest quarter shareholding data, Bharti Airtel has said that Bharti Telecom Ltd is one of its promoters and has listed ICIL as PAC (Person Acting in Concert) with Bharti Telecom Ltd.

With regard to Pastel, Bharti Airtel has said it qualifies as as a "deemed promoter" entity, but was not a PAC with the the promoter Bharti Telecom Ltd.

As on September 30, 2012, promoters held a total of 68.5 per cent stake in Bharti Airtel Ltd. Out of this, Bharti Telecom had 45.7 per cent, Pastel had 15.57 per cent, ICIL 7 per cent and another entity Viridan Ltd had 0.22 per cent.

Viridan has also been listed as a PAC with Pastel, but not of promoter Bharti Telecom Limited.

Pastel and Viridan are subsidiaries of Singapore-based SingTel, a promoter entity of Indian telecom major.

Earlier in August this year, the government had informed the Parliament that certain alleged violation of market regulator Sebi's takeover-related regulations by the promoters of telecom major Bharti Airtel is being examined.

"With regard to the alleged violations of Sebi (Subsntial Acquisition of Shares and Takeover) Regulations, 1997, by the promoter group of Bharti Airtel Ltd, Sebi had sought comments from concerned entities, and the matter is under examination," Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Milind Deora had said in a written reply to a Rajya Sabha question on August 17.

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