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ICICI Securities Receives Warning from SEBI After Inspection, Merger Vote Looms

ICICI Securities faces an administrative warning from SEBI following a book inspection. The company is also awaiting a shareholder vote on its proposed merger with ICICI Bank, with some investors raising concerns.

ICICI Securities Receives Warning from SEBI After Inspection, Merger Vote Looms

ICICI Securities Faces SEBI Warning, Merger Vote on Horizon

ICICI Securities Limited, a leading Indian brokerage firm, has been issued an administrative warning by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) following an inspection of its books and records related to merchant banking activities conducted in December 2023.

 

The company clarified in a regulatory filing that the warning has no impact on its financial operations or other ongoing activities. However, this development comes amidst a crucial period for ICICI Securities as it awaits a shareholder vote on its proposed merger with parent company ICICI Bank.

 

Merger Plans and Shareholder Concerns

In June 2023, ICICI Bank received board approval for a draft scheme of arrangement to delist ICICI Securities and make it a wholly-owned subsidiary again. The bank currently holds a 75% stake in the brokerage firm. Delisting would involve a share swap, with public shareholders of ICICI Securities receiving 67 shares of ICICI Bank for every 100 shares held in the brokerage.

 

This move aims to achieve synergies between the two entities and streamline operations. However, the proposed merger has attracted criticism from certain investors. Earlier on the same day as the SEBI announcement, Quantum Mutual Fund, a significant investor, voted against the merger.

 

Quantum Mutual Fund Raises Concerns

Quantum Mutual Fund argues that the proposed share swap ratio undervalues ICICI Securities and results in losses for its unitholders. Their estimates suggest a net loss of Rs 1,776.70 crore for ICICI Securities' minority shareholders. The fund house also highlighted potential losses for its own Quantum Long Term Equity Value Fund (QLTEVF) and Quantum ELSS Tax Saver Fund (QETSF) which hold shares in both ICICI Bank and ICICI Securities.

 

EGM Scheduled for Shareholder Vote

Despite these concerns, the Ahmedabad Bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) cleared ICICI Bank's merger plan with ICICI Securities in January 2024. The tribunal directed ICICI Securities to conduct an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) scheduled for March 27, 2024, to seek shareholder approval for the merger.

 

Market Reaction and Upcoming Developments

The news of the SEBI warning coincided with a slight decline in ICICI Securities' stock price, closing at Rs 751.80, down 1.18%. Investors are likely to be closely monitoring the upcoming EGM and the outcome of the shareholder vote. The SEBI warning might influence some voting decisions, but the final outcome remains to be seen.

 

Looking Ahead: Scrutiny and Shareholder Decision

The SEBI warning adds another layer of complexity to the ICICI Securities-ICICI Bank merger saga. While the companies maintain the merger will be beneficial, some investors have expressed concerns about the valuation and potential losses. The upcoming EGM will be a crucial moment, and the outcome will hinge on how shareholders weigh the potential benefits against the concerns raised by investors like Quantum Mutual Fund.

 

This situation underscores the importance of transparency and fair valuation in mergers and acquisitions. As the story unfolds, it will be interesting to see how the SEBI warning and shareholder vote ultimately impact the future of ICICI Securities and its relationship with ICICI Bank.

 


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