Hectic parleys at Bajaj on eve of settlement

Written by MG Arun | Mumbai | Updated: Dec 30 2008, 06:22am hrs
Once bitten, twice shy. The Shishir Bajaj camp is keeping its fingers crossed on how the latest Bajaj family settlement process pans out with Rahul Bajaj giving up control of Bajaj Hindustan to younger brother Shishir, and is not celebrating unless pen is put to paper. As per the latest settlement, Rahul Bajaj is planning to buy more than 29% stake in Bajaj Hindustan from other promoters on December 30 and later transfer it to his brother Shishir Bajaj.

According to highly placed sources in the Shishir Bajaj camp, hectic parleys are going on among the Bajaj brothers, and the dust is yet to settle on the family issue which has been burning since 2003. The matter will only have clarity in the next 10-12 days, sources said.

Although the brothers are close to reaching a settlement, nothing can be sure unless they put pen to paper, sources added, indicating the brothers would like to see more commitment from each before they say things are settled, after the failed settlement process in 2003 mediated by chartered accountant S Gurumurthy.

Promoters hold 45.65% in Bajaj Hindustan, institutional investors 27%, the public 15.47% and others, 11.88%. In March 2007, Bajaj Auto and persons acting in concert had increased their stake in Bajaj Hindusthan from 37.71% to 39.87%. In September the same year, Shishir Bajaj hiked his stake in the company by 4.7%, taking the total promoters stake in Bajaj Hindustan to 45.6%. After the transfer of shares by Rahul Bajaj, Shishir Bajaj will have 32.47% stake in Bajaj Hindusthan.

Bajaj Auto shares closed at Rs 369.30 on the BSE on Monday, down 6%.

Bajaj Hindustan shares fell marginally to end the day at Rs 63.75 on the BSE. The stock has fallen by more than 78% in a years time.

When contacted, Rahul Bajaj said he did not want to comment on the issue.

A spokesperson of Bajaj Hindustan also refused to comment. However, the general feeling is that the Rahul Bajaj camp is rushing with the settlement process, but Shishir and his son Kushagra Nayan Bajaj, the present CEO & joint managing director of Bajaj Hindustan, want to arrive at a fair deal, that has been properly valuated.

In a notice to the National Stock Exchange last week, Shishir Bajaj had said he would acquire shares in Bajaj Hindusthan that Rahul Bajaj would buy from family members and group companies - Bachhraj & Co and Jamnalal Sons. Rahul Bajaj would acquire over 4.1 crore shares amounting to 29.2% stake in the sugar firm through an inter-se-transfer of shares among the promoters by way of market transactions. These shares would be acquired at the market price as on December 30, the notice said.

The acquired shares, along with 0.21% already held by Rahul Bajaj as well as the holdings of six other family members amounting to 29.62 %, would then be transferred in favour of Shishir. According to the notice, The acquisition price per share is nil, in terms of the family arrangement cum settlement and on account of distribution of the estate of late Kamalnayan Bajaj.