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Anil accuses brother of ‘criminal’ intent

Mumbai, Feb. 5: The war of words between the Ambani brothers today struck the highest pitch of bitterness with the Anil camp charging the Mukesh side with a “deliberate and criminal attempt” to frustrate and prevent transfer of shares.

Under the agreement between the brothers to split the empire, four entities have been spun off Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). The four ' Reliance Energy Ventures, Reliance Capital Ventures, Reliance Communications Ventures and Reliance Natural Resources ' will eventually be controlled by the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG).

The Anil camp is accusing the other side of not passing on control. Mukesh’s side, on the contrary, is saying that for control to pass the four companies have to be listed and Anil is preventing that from taking place.

Satish Seth, a director of ADAG, hurled the “criminal attempt” charge, saying that three major agreements had been executed between Mukesh-controlled Reliance Industries and the four entities while they still remained under the control of the elder brother.

The three agreements include a gas supply arrangement, a non-compete pact and a brand accord.

“These agreements have been signed purportedly on behalf of the Reliance-ADAG companies by the nominees of RIL who had no authority to do so,” the Anil camp said in a statement.

It also said Reliance-ADAG nominees had expressed dissent at board meetings over the agreements.

The Mukesh faction riposted by releasing a batch of emails exchanged between the two camps to buttress the argument that Anil’s side was deliberately delaying listing.

This, it said, was a clear violation of the terms of the understanding between the two sides.

In an email sent to key Anil aide Gautam Doshi, Sandeep Tandon, a Mukesh camp honcho, said: “You have addressed a letter to Sebi that listing of the companies should be staggered and deferred to mid-February, February-end and mid-March. It is not at all in the interest of our shareholders that listing of our companies is unfairly delayed for nearly 45 days.”

Tandon, who chairs all four companies, told PTI he had written to stock exchanges to expedite listing for three companies.

The Mukesh camp said four directors in Anil’s team did not attend a board meeting on January 27 that was to draw up an information memorandum on three of the four companies. The document is needed to seek listing.

Late tonight, the Anil camp countered the charges. It said two companies would be listed by mid-February. A third, Reliance Natural Resources, is awaiting finalisation of the gas supply contract with RIL.

It appears that the trouble is really over Reliance Communications, which is expected to be the holding company for all of the group’s telecom operations that Anil will control.

Anil’s side said it was collecting the information to meet disclosure requirements for listing. It pointed out that under Mukesh’s management no disclosures were ever made for some 200 companies.

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