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Grasim braces for long battle over L&T

Mumbai, Nov. 20: Grasim Industries Ltd braced itself for a long and hard battle against Sebi—which put on hold its open offer for 20 per cent of Larsen & Toubro—even as squeamish investors pushed the scrip southwards on the bourses today.

Opening another flank against the Aditya Birla group flagship, investor associations today raised pointed questions as to why the order of the market regulator was shrouded in a cloak of secrecy.

Their main grouse was that neither the company nor the regulator deemed it fit to make a public announcement on the issue. Incidentally, Grasim had informed the stock exchanges at the time of making the offer for 20 per cent of L&T at Rs 190 per share.

Sebi will also look into the alleged failure of JM Morgan Stanley, the manager to Grasim’s open offer, in communicating the order to keep the open offer on hold to the public.

The Aditya Birla group’s appeal against the Sebi order was admitted today by the Securities and Appellate Tribunal (SAT). The case will be heard on Thursday and an interim order expected to be passed immediately thereafter.

The Grasim counter witnessed nervous trading as the scrip opened marginally lower at Rs 312 from its previous close of Rs 314.35. The scrip gyrated wildly, rising later to an intra-day high of Rs 316 and an intra-day low of Rs 305.25, before closing the day at Rs 308.45.

Sebi had put the open offer on hold on Monday as it wanted to investigate whether Grasim had management control when it bought 10.6 per cent in L&T in November 2001. The investigation, it said, was to protect small investors.

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