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Stake churn in HDFC Bank vault

Mumbai, March 10: A large block deal in the HDFC Bank counter, valued at Rs 724 crore, sent the markets into a tizzy today. About 1.16 crore shares changed hands at a price of Rs 623 apiece.

The deal was routed through the Bombay Stock Exchange but there was no official word to identify the buyer and the seller.

Market sources, however, said the seller was India Private Equity Fund (Mauritius), an arm of JP Morgan, a leading foreign bank, which owns exactly 1.16 crore HDFC Bank shares.

The buyer of the huge chunk of equity amounting to 4.12 per cent stake of HDFC Bank is Deutsche Securities. HDFC Bank was the top traded counter on the Bombay Stock Exchange today in a market that saw a lot of action in bank stocks. By virtue of the block deal, the HDFC counter saw 1.17 crore shares changing hands for an aggregate sum of Rs 720.07 crore.

The HDFC Bank stock fell Rs 3.15 from its overnight close of Rs 618.25 to Rs 615.10. HDFC Bank is one of the leading private sector banks and has notched up an impressive growth in its topline as well its bottomline.

The main promoter of the bank is HDFC Ltd, the housing finance major, which holds a 24.03 per cent stake along with HDFC Investments.

Standard Life owns 4.25 per cent. Bennett, Coleman & Company holds 3.09 per cent in the bank; at one point it had more than 5 per cent. The publishing company became a major shareholder of the bank after it merged Times Bank into HDFC Bank.

The interest in Indian bank stocks, analysts say, is because investors expect the best way to ride a boom in the country's economy is to buy bank stocks.

Banking, it seems, is fast emerging as the most happening sector after this year's budget outlined the future growth map for this industry.

The interest can be gauged by the enthusiasm that Punjab National Bank's public offering generated this week. It was oversubscribed on the first day the issue opened. Several other public sector banks are also waiting in the wings to tap the capital market.

MCX holding

HDFC Bank has picked up an equity stake in the leading commodity future exchange ' Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (MCX).

'Earlier, State Bank of India, along with all its subsidiaries, had invested in the equity capital of MCX,' a release issued by the exchange said here today.

Asked about the equity partnership, MCX officials declined to divulge details, but said HDFC Bank has picked up a substantial stake in the commodity exchange.

'The idea is not to offload the exchange's stake to the bank but take advantage of each other,' he said.

The interest shown by HDFC Bank in getting into equity partnership with MCX highlights the importance of the commodity market and MCX, the release said.

'This partnership will bring substantial intensity and thrust to the Indian commodities and agriculture market. The inherent strengths of HDFC Bank, coupled with MCX's initiative, will definitely result in a win-win situation,' MCX managing director Jignesh Shah said.

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