The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anil bristles at Mukesh move

Mumbai, April 25: A second move in close succession over Indian Petrochemicals Ltd, apparently without the knowledge of Anil Ambani, has cast doubts on the settlement between the Ambani brothers that is reportedly in the works.

Reliance Capital today revealed that it had sold the 50 per cent share it held in Reliance Petroinvestments, which owns 46 per cent of Indian Petrochemicals (IPCL).

In the last paragraph of a notice to stock exchanges, the company said Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, a close aide of Anil and a director, objected to the sale. Jhunjhunwala was not aware of the sale.

Last week, Anil's name was dropped without ado from the list of directors of IPCL and, after today's revelation, some observers believe the old fissures between Mukesh and Anil have reappeared.

Anand Jain, a Mukesh confidant, is the managing director of Reliance Capital, the finance company that is widely expected to go to Anil.

Others brush away concerns that the settlement is at risk. 'The recent moves, though controversial, are efforts towards settling ownership issues,' an observer reasoned.

The moves indicate that IPCL and Reliance Industries (RIL) will go into Mukesh's bag, the observers added, and Reliance Capital to Anil.

The explanation does not answer the question why Anil was kept in the dark. Besides, there was neither any intimation about the price at which the stake had been sold nor the date of sale.

When these questions began to be asked about a deal that in effect means Reliance Capital offloading its 23 per cent holding, valued at Rs 1,200 crore, in IPCL, a clarification was issued.

Reliance Capital sources said the company had invested Rs 4.44 crore in the equity of Reliance Petroinvestments which it had now sold at the same price. The buyers are two group companies, Reliance Pharmaceuticals and Reliance Neutraceuticals, whose ultimate economic benefit accrues to RIL. RIL already owns half of Reliance Petroinvestments.

Earlier in the day there were reports that a fortnight after he offered to resign from IPCL, Anil had written a letter on January 27 to reconsider his decision.

Stock exchanges have asked questions about the delay in informing them about the acceptance of Anil's resignation. After the stake sale, shareholders, if not the authorities, could ask more questions.

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