The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Happy govt not in probe mood

New Delhi, June 18: The government today welcomed the settlement between the two warring Ambani brothers over the ownership of the Reliance empire.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said he was “very happy that matters have been settled amicably. I am glad that they have kept the interest of three million shareholders in mind.”

The minister said both the Ambani brothers ' Mukesh and Anil ' have the capacity and wisdom to build large businesses under separate leadership and indicated that the government may not probe allegations levelled by the brothers against each other before the settlement was reached.

The younger Ambani and his lieutenant Amitabh Jhunjhunwala had raised several issues, including the sale of IPCL equity by Reliance Capital without making disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).

At one stage it seemed the department of company affairs and Sebi would probe these complaints. However, this does not seem likely now.

Company affairs minister P. C. Gupta termed the settlement a “big relief” for millions of investors and various stakeholders, including Indian and foreign financial institutions, and added, “since the settlement is already there, I think all the issues are resolved.”

The government and political circles had been busy watching the battle between the two brothers over the business empire that their father Dhirubhai had founded.

Sources said the government had instructed state-run financial institutions, which own roughly 10 per cent stake in Reliance Industries and about 21 per cent of Reliance Energy, to maintain neutrality in the ongoing spat between the two Ambani brothers.

Top finance ministry officials said the FIs had been informally told that they should exercise their rights as shareholders only when their own interests were jeopardised.

Both the brothers had been busy visiting top politicians, explaining their side of the story. Mukesh met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi during this period. Both the brothers also held long meetings with key ministers such as Chidambaram and Gupta.

Anil, who is also a member of the Upper House of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh, representing the Samajwadi Party, an opponent of the Congress party, met key bureaucrats during this period.

Sebi silent

Market regulator Sebi today maintained a strict silence over the settlement reached between the Ambani brothers.

“I don’t comment on individual companies,” Sebi chairman M. Damodaran said when asked for his reaction on the Ambani brothers’ battle that saw group companies’ shares fluctuating sharply, giving anxious moments to over three million shareholders.

“I don’t want to comment on record or off-record. I have maintained right from the beginning that Sebi will not comment on any particular company,” he said.

Damodaran also declined to take other questions relating to the group.

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