GHCL promoter Sanjay Dalmia appears to be in control of the country’s largest soda ash maker, and is believed to have increased his shareholding significantly above the 18.5 per cent he held till recently when a battle for control of the company raged.
Refusing to disclose his current shareholding, Dalmia, the company’s chairman, said after GHCL’s annual general meeting (AGM) on Thursday that he held “well over 18.5 per cent”. According to sources close to the company, his new stake may have crossed 25 per cent and touched 27 per cent after an out-of-court settlement over loan default with Indiabulls, with which GHCL had pledged 9 per cent equity.
Dalmia, however, would only say that he, along with friends and relatives, was in a “very comfortable” position. “Like any other promoter we are looking at increasing our stake in the company,” he added.
Evidence of this comfortable position was apparent at the AGM, where five directors, all of them said to be close to Dalmia, were re-appointed.
That was in contrast with the AGM of 2008, where Pramod Jain, director of Pranidhi Ventures, who claims 5 per cent equity in GHCL, alleged that the promoter had diluted stake in the company and demanded a change of guard. Jain also wanted his own people on the board. Later, there were murmurs of a hostile takeover bid by him.
In April, Securities and Exchange Board of India, the stock markets regulator, barred Dalmia and two other senior company executives from trading on Indian exchanges following charges of inflating promoters’ shareholding in quarterly filings to exchanges.
At Thursday’s AGM, where Jain did not turn up and was represented by a proxy, eight resolutions were passed with 96.94 per cent votes. This included re-appointment of Anurag Dalmia, Sanjay Dalmia’s brother, as a director. Others who got re-appointed to the board are Naresh Chandra, R S Jalan, Sanjiv Tyagi and Mahesh Kheria.
“A handful of people who would have close to 1 per cent holding in the company have tried to create hurdles. However, the shareholders have stood by us and this can be seen by the stunning results we have got at the AGM," said Dalmia.