Private sector lender ICICI Bank has acquired 1.8 crore shares of Hyderabad-based Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd through invocation of pledged shares. After the acquisition, ICICI Banks stake in DCHL has jumped to 9.8% from 1.2%, according to a notice to the stock exchange.
The DCHL board had earlier in the year approved the sale of shares on a preferential basis to prospective investors. ICICI Bank has the largest exposure in DCHL, to the tune of R490 crore. ICICI Bank had earlier moved the local court against the Deccan Chronicle promoters after a cheque issued for R350 crore by them bounced. The bank is among a few lenders that dragged the promoters of the media house to courts involving cheque bounces. Analysts point out that other banks are likely to follow suit after ICICI Banks move.
In its recent filing to the BSE, DCHL had said the lenders invoked the pledge of shares made by the promoters as collateral, by which the promoters shareholding has come down from 73.83% as on March 2012 to 32.66% as on December 31, 2013. It is learnt that the promoters have disputed the invocation of the pledge and appropriation of the value by the lenders. The company also said it has not accounted for interest on the borrowings, as the lenders neither confirmed the balances nor provided the basis for appropriate non-cash assets, loan account statements and other documents. The interest on borrowings outstanding amounted to R130.42 crore as on December 31, 2013.
DCHL has defaulted on loans worth over R4,000 crore taken from 28 banks and various financial institutions. While most of the lenders have filed litigations against the company, some have already started the process of securing their loans. Andhra Bank, which has an exposure of about R200 crore in the company, attached two properties of DCHL, reportedly worth R160 crore.