Reliance Power shares meltdown: Anil Ambani-led firm seeks Sebi ban on Edelweiss Securities

File photo of Chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd Mukesh Ambani speaking as his brother Anil Ambani watches in 2004. A dispute between the siblings over dues to Department of Telecommunications has stalled a spectrum deal between the companies of the siblings. Reuters

Anil Ambani-led Reliance Power, whose share plunged 57 per cent last week, has sought a ban on financial services company Edelweiss Securities from stock trading, a report says.

A part of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) that owns telco Reliance Communications (RCom), which has filed for bankruptcy following defaulted payment to a European equipment maker, Reliance Power has sought a "cease and desist" order against Edelweiss for engaging in "market abuse" in a letter to the market regulator.

It has sought Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) investigation of the disruption of shares of companies of ADAG including an "examination of the dealing room records, including records of phone calls and SMS of all persons at the broking firms where the bulk of the sale transactions took place, and the relevant fund flows", according to the report on the Business Standard website.

Shares of the Anil Ambani group companies tanked following news of deferment of a restructuring plan, which included selling RCom after talks with lenders failed. The letter alleges that Edelweiss "had pressed huge sale orders significantly below the prevailing market price, thus majorly contributing to downward movement in the last traded price". Such selling was "enforced not only in the cash but also in the derivatives segment in a disorderly manner". Leading to deliberate "hammering down of the price of Reliance Power shares".

Last week, Reliance Communications plunged 54 percent, Reliance Power 59 percent, Reliance Capital 32 percent and Reliance Infra 56 percent.

The promoters had raised loans secured by shares from different lenders including Edelweiss. The selloff of pledged shares was led primarily led by Edelweiss and L&T Finance. The two lenders have denied any wrongdoing.

The younger Ambani sibling had flayed the lenders after the market meltdown for what he claimed "illegal and excessive" action on the part of the lenders. The lenders reacted claiming no illegality in the sale of pledged shares whose value plunged after the market reacted to the bankruptcy plea by RCom following a court case that Swedish equipment maker Ericsson initiated following payment default.

RCom was forced to default after a telecom spectrum and asset sale with Reliance Jio of Mukesh Ambani, the older sibling, was stalled in court over dues to Department of Telecommunication (DoT) despite a Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) verdict allowing the sale.

In its letter, R-Power alleges Edelweiss "resorted to enforce the pledge on Reliance Power shares and dumped the same in the market" though there was no more than a "margin shortfall and breach of some loan covenants".

A Reliance group spokesperson said: "As resolved by the boards of various group companies, we will take all legal steps necessary to protect and enhance the value of our stakeholders, including pursuing it with appropriate regulators."

Anil Ambani and his companies have been mired in controversy after French fighter aircraft maker Dassault made Reliance Defence and Engineering an offset partner in the Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft deal for Indian Air Force.

Rahul Gandhi-led Congress party that heads the opposition United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has been using the deal as a major issue during this election year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leads has been combative in responding to the allegations of the opposition with the general elections in April-May.

Reliance Jio Mukesh Ambani Rahul Gandhi
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