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NMCE promoters in talks with PE players, banks to dilute stake

Dilip Kumar Jha  |  Mumbai 

Ahmedabad-based National Multi Commodity Exchange (NMCE) is in talks with five private equity players and large private banks to divest part of shareholders’ equity in the exchange, to meet the regulatory guidelines before the extended deadline of March 31, 2012.

Currently, the exchange has an equity share capital of Rs 19.12 crore, which, according to revised guidelines, should be raised to at least Rs 50 crore before March 31. Also, the promoters’ stake needs to be brought down to 26 per cent.

Confirming the development, Anil Mishra, managing director and CEO of the exchange, said: “Five suitors, including some leading private equity players and large private sector banks, have evinced interest in acquiring equity in NMCE. We are in the process of selecting a few competent ones.”

Mishra did not divulge the names of the possible bidders for stake sale.

In the revised guidelines on equity structure in the national-level commodity futures trading platforms, introduced in July 2009, the Forward Commission (FMC) had set a net worth criterion of Rs 100 crore. Of this, equity capital was mandatorily fixed at Rs 50 crore. The guidelines were made applicable for the three national-level exchanges — the Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX), the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) and NMCE.

These national-level commodity trading platforms had started operations around the end of 2003 with the then mandatory equity share capital of Rs 10 crore. This was revised in 2009 in view of the overall growth in the market.

Of the three existing platforms, MCX and NCDEX met the capital criterion earlier than the first deadline of October 31, 2011, while NMCE sought an extension which the ministry of consumer Affairs granted for six months until March 31. MCX’s promoter Financial Technol-ogies is expected to reduce its stake to 26 per cent through an IPO by March-end.

“We have not sought any further extension as we are confident of meeting the criterion before this deadline,” said Mishra. New national-level exchanges, including the Indian Commodity Exchange and Ace Derivatives and Commodity Exchange, started trading with a minimum share capital of Rs 100 crore, of which Rs 50 crore was allocated for share equity capital. NMCE currently has a net worth – equity plus reserves and surplus – of Rs 65 crore and an equity capital of Rs 19.12 crore.

“After the possible candidates are selected, they would be entitled to a non-disclosure agreement. Then, the offer will go to the NMCE board to arrive at a price of each share. Once the board agrees on the price, the possible bidders will be sent the terms of share purchase. We are confident on NMCE’s ability to meet the paid-up capital norm within the revised deadline,” Mishra added. NMCE sold a 12.82 per cent stake to Bajaj Holdings and Investment Ltd for Rs 25 crore in October 2010 to meet the capital requirement guidelines.

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First Published: Wed, January 25 2012. 00:15 IST