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3i Infotech Trusteeship Services, a security trustee which facilitates loan deeds, has told the exchanges that ICICI Bank has secured a pledge of 60 million shares belonging to the promoters of Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd (DCHL).
DCHL, publishers of multiple media entities, has been much in the news since the disclosure of what appeared to be a financial mess, the extent of which has been the subject of much reporting and denials. Its stock price has plunged on the exchanges after revelations of pledging of shares to more than one entity to raise money at high rates of interest.
3i Infotech said the shares were pledged to ICICI based on a power of attorney granted on June 18. According to earlier disclosures with the registrar of companies, ICICI had lent Rs 490 crore to Deccan Chronicle on the same day. The filing said each of the three promoters had pledged 20 million shares of the company in favour of ICICI Bank on July 28.
DCHL Chairman T Venkattram Reddy, and Vice- Chairmen T Vinayak Ravi Reddy and P K Iyer, who are the promoter group shareholders, have an identical holding of 24.61 per cent each.
In an earlier filing dated July 26, another lender, Future Capital, said it had a pledge of 112.85 million shares (or 54 per cent ) of the company belonging to the promoters, against loans given to Deccan Chronicle and Aviotech, a group firm. The promoters also made filings that matched with this. And, on July 30, Religare Finvest told the bourses that an additional 14.5 per cent belonging to various entities were pledged on account of loans against securities.
Thus, 68.5 per cent of the company’s shares had already been pledged. With the latest pledge, the total of shares so tied has crossed 203 million, which makes it about 97 per cent of the company’s floated equity. Brokers said this was unlikely and some of the pledged shares reported earlier could have changed hands between lenders. “It is not possible that the same shares are pledged twice after these are reported in the exchanges. It is possible that some of these shares have changed hands,” said an official with a local brokerage.
Some days earlier, Hyderabad-based Karvy Stock Broking Ltd had filed a complaint to the police here, alleging the promoters of the listed media entity tricked them during an exercise to pledge shares and raise funds.