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Grasim fails to win breather

Mumbai, Nov. 21: The Securities and Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has deferred its decision on Grasim Industries’ appeal against the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s directive staying the Aditya Birla’ group flagship’s open offer for 20 per cent in Larsen & Toubro.

Grasim had sought interim relief from SAT, but the tribunal adjourned the hearing till November 27 and asked the market regulator to file an affidavit along with any fresh evidence that prompted it to take the unusual step of postponing a public offer after clearing it in the first place.

However, today’s developments have rendered all hopes of a reprieve from SAT distant. The open offer was to commence on December 9, and, with SAT posting the next hearing without staying the Sebi order, it means Grasim will have to shelve its plans for the time being. The company will also have to inform shareholders that the open offer is temporarily shelved, as the last day for despatching the offer letters to shareholders is November 25.

The hearing was deferred after Sebi claimed to have more evidence on the Grasim-Reliance deal that saw Grasim acquire the latter’s stake in L&T last November. At today’s hearing, Sebi’s counsel argued that lifting the stay order would be unfair to small investors. Sebi has undertaken to submit an affidavit with its additional findings before the tribunal on November 26.

Grasim counsel Goolam Vahanvati asked why the market regulator decided to change its stand after clearing the open offer in the first place. Further, in several letters to the Investors Grievance Forum, the market regulator had given a clean chit to Grasim’s acquisition of L&T shares. Meanwhile, Aditya Birla group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla today said Grasim had no plans of raising its open offer price of Rs 190 per share for L&T.

Meanwhile, L&T clarified that it has not made any bid for Raasi Cement and Visaka Cement. The company considers opportunities for acquisition of cement units on an ongoing basis and in view of the competitive environment the company is unable to offer any comments at this stage.

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