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Lok Prakashan cuts Voltas holding

Calcutta, Nov. 27: Ahmedabad-based publishing house Lok Prakashan, has pared its stake in Voltas — the white goods major managed by the Tatas — to 8.9 per cent from a peak holding of around 14 per cent.

Voltas informed stock exchanges today that Lok Prakashan held 29.47 lakh shares of the company on November 21, having sold 12.5 lakh shares over the two preceding weeks.

While reducing its stake in Voltas, the Gujarat-based group has ratcheted up its holding in Rallis India — another company belonging to the Tata group — to 7 per cent.

The Ahmedabad-based publishing house had scooped up over 46 lakh shares of Voltas from the market before beginning to offload. It held 43.71 lakh shares on September 30, or 13.21 per cent of Voltas’ shares.

Lok Prakashan’s managing director Bahubali S. Shah said: “We have held Voltas’ shares for over two-and-a-half years, having acquired them at an average cost of Rs 42. The price of the stock having run up significantly, we though it was time to book profits.”

Voltas closed at Rs 141.30 on the National Stock Exchange today, a shade lower than its 52-week high of Rs 143. Lok Prakashan’s average acquisition cost of Rs 42 per share is lower than Voltas’ current 52-week low of Rs 43.40.

The selling reaffirms Lok Prakashan’s position that it had no intention to dismantle the management of Voltas. “We have always maintained that we consider Voltas a good investment, and have no plans of seeking management control of the company,” Shah said.

The Tatas held 27 per cent in Voltas at the end of September. While institutions held 20.6 per cent, mutual funds had a combined stake of 5.4 per cent and public holding was pegged at 33.3 per cent.

Lok Prakashan’s substantial holding in Rallis came to light when the company told stock exchanges that the Gujarat-based group had cornered more than 5 per cent of its shares. Besides the Tatas, other major shareholders in Rallis include Reliance Capital, which holds 8.5 per cent. The Tata group held 45.74 per cent of Rallis’ shares at the end of September.

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