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Rajeev edge in UML tussle

The 2 factions had nearly equal number of shares in the company

By Sambit Saha in Calcutta

  • Published 23.09.19, 12:38 AM
  • Updated 23.09.19, 12:38 AM
Rajeev (left) and Prashant Jhawar
Rajeev (left) and Prashant Jhawar Telegraph file picture

Rajeev Jhawar has cornered a slender edge over his warring cousin Prashant Jhawar in the battle of ownership for Usha Martin Ltd.

The two factions, both promoters of the wire and wire rope maker, had nearly equal number of shares in the company.

However, Prashant Jhawar, who stepped down from the board a week ago as the non-executive director, has been offloading shares in the market at regular intervals. It now appears that Rajeev Jhawar, the managing director of UML, has been scooping up shares nearly in equal measures from the bourses to bolster his holding.

During the AGM of the company on Saturday, a shareholder asked if the Rajeev Jhawar-family would be making creeping acquisition of shares up to 5 per cent in a fiscal, as allowed by Sebi. However, Jhawar, did not reply to the query.

Sources said companies and individuals linked to Prashant Jhawar and his father Basant Kumar Jhawar have sold around 38-39 lakh shares since April 2019.

Companies and individuals linked to Rajeev Jhawar and his father Brij Kishore Jhawar have bought around 32 lakh shares. Moreover, the Prashant-Basant duo had sold over a million shares last fiscal but the Rajeev-Brij faction did not buy the UML stock then.

According to a source, the stake of the Prashant-Basant duo has now come under 24 per cent, while that of Rajeev-Brij is now nearing 25 per cent. Queries made to Prashant-Basant did not receive any response at the time of going to press.

Rajeev Jhawar purchased bulk of the shares — around 20 lakh— last week alone, soon after Prashant resigned from the board. Prashant and Rajeev are cousin brothers, sons of Usha Martin founders Basant and Brij. Both are locked in a fierce battle over the last two years for the control of the company.

Two years back Prashant Jhawar was removed as the non-executive chairman on the board at the initiative of lead lender, the SBI. Earlier this year, a special resolution to reappoint Basant Jhawar failed to get the requisite majority of 75 per cent as the Rajeev-Brij faction, along with public and institutional shareholders, voted against the resolution.

Voting results

Four resolutions were put to vote at the AGM and all were passed with the requisite majority. While the Prashant-Basant duo voted against the adoption of the financial statement and the appointment of cost auditor and independent director Ramni Nirula, they abstained from voting on the appointment of Vijay Singh Bapna as independent auditor.

Debt reduction

Rajeev Jhawar said the company’s net debt after selling off its steel division to Tata Sponge for Rs 4,600 crore (with working capital) is Rs 600 crore. There is a Rs 160-crore holdback amount from pending transfer of land.

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