Industry

Freeze on Yes Bank’s 25.6% stake in Dish TV spooks private lenders


Private credit lenders who often provide finance against pledge of shares are rattled that they will not be able to exercise their rights as lenders, if a police move freezing ’s 25.6% stake in sets a precedent.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear Yes Bank’s appeal against an Allahabad High Court order that dismissed the lender’s plea seeking to lift the freeze on its voting rights in Dish TV, which is operated by Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group. At the high court, Yes Bank had challenged a move by Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Buddh Nagar crime branch last week to freeze its voting rights in Dish TV.

Dish TV has scheduled an annual general meeting on Tuesday (November 30) to seek shareholders’ consent to its Rs 1,000 crore rights issue – a move that is opposed by Yes Bank, the largest shareholder. “The private lender will not be able to exercise its voting rights if the Supreme Court does not restore it,” said one of the lenders.

The court is likely to hear the matter in the first half of the day, while the AGM is scheduled at 3.00 pm.

Yes Bank on September 3 had suggested reconstitution of Dish TV’s board and opposed the proposed rights issue as it would dilute its holding in the company.

Private equity lenders say equity pledge is one of the most liquid collateral and freezing it is a major setback.

“The courts in India might eventually resolve this issue. However, if the police interfere and even cause a few months delay in enforcing security, then the value of the debt gets significantly eroded,” said one of the lenders, who did not want to be named.

Private credit providers are also rattled that a police complaint was filed when there are well-established procedures for dispute resolution, such as the National Company Law Tribunal. Further, the case was registered at the crime branch in Uttar Pradesh when both Yes Bank and Dish TV have their registered offices in Mumbai.

One of the lawyers present at the Allahabad High Court said Yes Bank’s senior counsel, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, pointed out that “the UP sub-inspector will become supreme and can tomorrow attach paintings in Kerala and homes in Mumbai based on frivolous complaints filed by defaulting borrowers”.

The UP crime branch order follows a complaint by Subhash Chandra against the bank, accusing its former chief executive, Rana Kapoor, of fraud in brokering a merger between Videocon D2H and Dish TV. Kapoor is facing allegations of financial irregularities at the bank and is currently in jail.

Yes Bank had provided a Rs 5,270 crore loan to Essel group of companies against the pledge of Dish TV shares in 2016. After the group companies of Essel started defaulting, Yes Bank invoked the shares in June 2020 and recalled the loan the following month. IndusInd Bank, L&T Finance, housing finance company, HDFC Ltd and Clix Capital are among other lenders to have invoked the share pledge of Dish TV.

Subhash Chandra first filed an FIR against Yes Bank at Greater Noida in September 2020 and initiated a civil proceeding against the bank at Delhi’s Saket District Court for invocation of shares. The Saket court initially restrained Yes Bank from selling the shares but withdrew the proceedings in August 2021.

On November 6, Dish TV informed the stock exchange that it has received orders from the UP-crime branch to restrict Yes Bank from the dealing with 445.3 million shares (amounting to a 25.6% stake) of Dish TV until the investigation is completed or further order. On November 7, Dish TV informed the exchanges about the proposed EGM on November 30.



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