Bhuvana Iyer, Mumbai Uncensored, 11th January 2022 :
BharatPe’s co-founder and MD Ashneer Grover and wife Madhuri Grover sent a legal notice to Kotak Mahindra Bank’s managing director and chief executive officer Uday Kotak, one of India’s top bankers, and his senior management, accusing the bank of failing to secure financing and allocation of shares in an IPO launched by beauty firm Nykaa.
The notice has sought damages for the gains Grover and his wife would have made after subscribing to shares worth Rs 500 crore in the company besides Rs 1 lakh towards the cost of the legal notice.
The notice was sent on October 30, 2021, but assumes significance after a leaked audio call that has Grover allegedly abusing and threatening a Kotak employee on this issue, went viral. The case pits Grover, one of India’s most successful new-age entrepreneurs, against one of its wealthiest and most respected, Uday Kotak.
The notice was also addressed to Oisharya Das, CEO of Kotak Wealth Management, Shanti Ekambaram, Kotak Mahindra Bank’s Group President for Consumer Banking and KVS Manian who heads Corporate, Institutional & Investment Banking.
“To the shock and surprise of our clients, on October 28, 2021, after having repeatedly assured our clients that the shares of FSN (Nykaa’s parent firm) would be allotted to them, Kotak informed our clients that it would not be able to provide financing for the Nykaa IPO,” Grover’s legal team wrote to Kotak Mahindra Bank in October.
“Kotak’s refusal to comply with its assurances was on the pretext that it had decided not to finance the Nykaa IPO due to ‘erratic FII movements’ and ‘very high lending rates’,” the notice added. According to Grover’s lawyer, Kotak’s “eleventh-hour” denial of IPO financing to Grover cost him a “business/investment opportunity about which they had informed Kotak more than a month in advance of the launch of the IPO”.
Last week, an audio clip surfaced on social media where a couple is speaking to someone who appears to be a Bank employee. The male voice hurls abuses and the other male voice is heard pacifying him. It was claimed that the voices were those of Ashneer Grover and his wife and the employee was from Kotak Mahindra Bank. Even as the clip went viral, especially since Mr Grover is a celebrity due to his appearance on a popular television show called Shark Tank, two things happened. Mr Grover denied the same calling the tape ‘fake’ and speaking about extortion attempts.
The dispute between BharatPe founder Ashneer Grover and Kotak Mahindra Bank over IPO financing escalated sharply, with the bank’s wealth management unit pledging to pursue legal action over Grover’s use of abusive language and threats. Kotak Wealth Management, represented by law firm Khaitan and Co., in response to Grover’s legal notice, said it reserves the right to pursue legal action for the threats to the lives of its employees.The contents of the legal communication also dispute Grover’s public denial of the phone call.
The Mumbai-based lender said it will take “appropriate legal action” against Grover on this matter.
“This notice was received by us and was replied to appropriately at the time, including placing on record our objections to inappropriate language used by Mr. Grover,” the bank said in a statement. “Appropriate legal action is being pursued.” “We would like to confirm that there is no breach or violation by the Kotak Group in any manner whatsoever,” the statement read.
In the first legal notice, Grover and his wife Madhuri alleged that they were in communication with Rohit Mohan, senior director of the ultra high networth individuals practice at Kotak, to obtain the necessary internal approvals for subscribing to Nykaa (FSN E-Commerce Ventures Ltd) shares worth ₹500 crore. According to the notice, Mr Grover has earlier availed Kotak Bank’s Wealth Management Services for IPO financing of Rs100 crore each for the IPOs of Zomato and CarTrade. He and his wife wanted to apply for shares worth Rs250 crore each in the Nykaa IPO. It may be recalled that the Nykaa IPO opened for subscription on 28 October 2021; according to the notice, on the same day, Kotak Mahindra Bank informed the Grovers that the subscription formalities for the Nykaa IPO on their behalf were done.
The legal battle highlights how wealthy individuals corner shares of sought-after IPOs by funding their purchases by borrowing heavily from banks for the short term. They sell their shares after the stock lists and repay banks.
The Crypto Effect : Framework, challenges & The way forward
SHASHWAT MISHRA – Mumbai Uncensored, 15 January 2022
2021 was a year full of buzz around cryptocurrency in India, apps coming up with private cryptocurrency(bitcoin), people investing in bitcoins, government twice was close to come up with a law banning all private cryptocurrency, but no material step was taken in this area. It becomes imperative to understand all about cryptocurrency and the article aims to give a detailed analysis on cryptocurrency, its challenges and the way forward.
What is cryptocurrency?
A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange similar to a Rupee or any other currency. The difference is while a rupee or a dollar exists in a physical form which is a printed note, cryptocurrency is held in an electronic form based on a technology named blockchain. Blockchain is nothing but a decentralized ledger in an electronic form which contains “blocks” in other words transactions across a peer-to-peer network, which means without an involvement of a third party.
Bitcoin is the world’s best known cryptocurrency which is considered to be the largest in terms of market value followed by Ethereum. If we talk about how cryptocurrency works, it needs to be understood in the context of a fiat money (currency with authorized permission and regulation), for example a rupee is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India which ensures that the money in circulation is genuine and is recorded. In the context of a cryptocurrency, a chain of private computers execute this process and solve complex cryptographic puzzles, this is done to authenticate the transaction, this process is called mining.
TRADING IN CRYPTOCURRENCIES
To trade in cryptocurrency, one needs to first buy a cryptocurrency, there are two ways in which a cryptocurrency can be brought, firstly, you can buy crypto coin from someone and the second, is to mine your own cryptocurrency. Buying happens in either an exchange facilitated transaction or a peer-to-peer transaction. Talking in the context of India, the simplest way to trade in cryptocurrency is through one of the exchange and trading platforms which includes, WazirX, CoinDCX, CoinSwitch Kuber etc.
To trade in cryptocurrency by using INR, the user needs to register on one of the exchange platforms mentioned above, and complete a KYC process, then if the user is buying cryptocurrency for the very first time will need to load INR money in their wallet of their cryptocurrency exchange.
FRAMEWORK ACROSS COUNTRIES & INDIA
El Salvador has become the first country to recognize bitcoin as a legal tender, China on the other hand has imposed a complete ban on cryptocurrency. It becomes imperative to look at some of the other jurisdictions around the world and their regulatory framework regarding cryptocurrency.
In the United States, The federal government does not recognize cryptocurrency as a legal tender, the two major regulators i.e. US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are playing catch up while regulating the digital currency market, their objectives are two fold, firstly, protecting the investing public and secondly, maintaining market stability.
In the United Kingdom, Her Majesty’s Revenue and customs department has not considered crypto assets as a currency. Furthermore, it has noted that cryptocurrency does not qualify to be any form of investment activity.
In Canada its regulator, Canada Revenue Authority (CRA) though does not recognize it as a fiat currency but treats it like a commodity used for payment and investment purposes and the same is subject to taxation.
Israel through its legislation, Supervision of Financial Services Law includes digital currency within the definition of financial assets. The Israel tax Authority demands 25% on profits made through exchange and trading of cryptocurrency.
India though has not come up with any policy or legislation either regulating or banning cryptocurrency, however, before the winter session of parliament last year there were conjectures that the government may come up with a law banning all private cryptocurrencies, but nothing concrete happened, which has led to uncertainty amongst investors in the Indian crypto market. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) though, has given some hints as to what would a regulatory framework on cryptocurrency in India look like.
The RBI is expected to come up with Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) a digital currency that can be transacted using platforms based on blockchains and would be regulated by RBI. However, this is just a form of digital currency, but the broader question is what should be a comprehensive policy related to cryptocurrency? Mr. Hemant Batra a renowned public policy expert and a lawyer while speaking to Mumbai Uncensored has provided his detailed insight and expertise on the policy regarding cryptocurrency, he says, “public policy can be of two types, firstly, a policy which brings or initiates a reform in any sector or segment within the society and second, is a policy brought about to formalize a change which has already happened. The Indian cryptocurrency market has now become very big with involvement of billions of dollars in the market hence, it is now unattainable and irreconcilable for the government to completely ban all sorts of cryptocurrency and its trading and investment. India is absolutely ready to accept cryptocurrency with a regulatory system based on global requirements as per the guidelines issued by IMF (International Monetary Fund). Banning cryptocurrency will lead to damaging the financial statistics of all nations”
CONCERNS AROUND CRYPTOCURRENCY
The next aspect is the challenges that cryptocurrency puts forth before the policy makers, these can be termed as “macro” consequence of cryptocurrency. First aspect is the challenge related to the monetary policy, former RBI governor Duvvuri Subbarao speaking at a public forum has expressed his concerns on cryptocurrency and its impact on monetary policy according to him, cryptocurrency may erode central bank’s control over money supply, “Crypto is backed by algorithms and there is fear that the central bank might lose control over money supply and inflation management. There are also concerns that crypto will disrupt the monetary policy,” he said, “Crypto can jump capital controls; fiat money is linked to the reserve currency,” his indication was towards “stablecoins” whose value is tied to a fiat currency by maintaining equivalent reserves (“currency board” exchange rate regime).
The next challenge is fiscal, that is cryptocurrency being used as a tool for tax evasion as it would be very feasible for a crypto investor to invest his untaxed money in purchasing bitcoins and similar would be a case in money laundering wherein “proceeds of crime” could easily be invested in any of the cryptocurrency exchange and trading platforms. Mr. Batra on this point states, “FATF (Financial Action task force) and IMF have expressed their serious concern about this issue, there are certain sets of cryptocurrency that are based on very private blockchains wherein one cannot identify the nation from which such virtual currency is operating and there are cases investigated globally wherein there has been a direct link between financing illegal and terror activities through crypto exchanges. To tackle this scenario, the government has to introduce regulatory regimes not on the cryptocurrency but crypto service providers.”
On the point of cryptocurrency being a very lucrative investment avenue Mr. Batra says, “investment in government bonds and securities, SEBI controlled mutual funds, financial securities might take a hit as people will not take risk in investing smaller companies and thus, they will either invest in blue chip companies or in cryptos”. Thus, cryptocurrency in India has now become a major factor in the financial as well as the economic realm and now what is needed is a comprehensive regulatory framework which ensures investor protection as well as market stability of crypto. In the budget session scheduled to start from 30th January; the Union Budget will be presented on February 1st, the government is expected to come up with a law on cryptocurrency, it would be very interesting to see how the law is formulated.
Indian Startups raise from $11.5 billion to $42 billion in 2022
India is the third largest unicorn hub with 90 unicorns, USA being first with 487 and China second with 301.
Akankshya Mukherjee, Mumbai Uncensored, 14TH January 2022 :
A report from the Orios Venture Partners says that Indian Startups have grown from $11.5 billion to $42 billion in 2021. ‘The Indian Tech Unicorn Report 2021’ was the report titled which says that India saw 46 unicorns, companies with $1 billion worth in 2021. It doubled to 90 unicorns.
According to the repot, they included Cred, Meesho, ShareChat, MPL, Grofers which is not Blinkit, Nazara, Spinny, Mamaearth, upGrad, GlobalBees, Acko, and others included. With around 6,00,00 startups, India is the third largest startup ecosystem in the world. These starts generate employment on a larger scale and also develop innovative technologies and solutions. One out of the 13 startups were born in India.
As per reports, Bengaluru is the city with maximum unicorns. E-commerce, Flipkart and Software as a Service (SaaS) have the maximum number of unicorns while Crypto, Gaming, D2C, ed-tech, health-tech have been closed. Delhi being the next with 29 and Mumbai with 16. Also emerging startup-based cities in India are Pune, Jaipur, Hyderabad, and Chennai.
Flipkart is the most valued unicorn, it raised from $3.6 billion to $37.6 billion in July 2021, Mensa Brands is the fastest to turn unicorn, it took only 6 months from May 2021 to November 2021 to raise the first $50 billion.
The report also says that India has 4 decacorns, companies with less than $10 billion and above value such as Flipkart, Byju’s, Oyo Rooms and Paytm. 2021 has setup a landmark year for Indian startups. In total 11 startups, out of which 8 are unicorns, raised around $7.16 billion with public offerings. One96 Communication, Paytm, raised India’s largest ever IPO of Rs.18,300 crore which is about $2.46 billion. Zomato has the highest market capitalization of $14.8 billion, followed by Nykaa with $13.5 billion and Freshworks with $6.9 billion the report further adds.
It had been an exciting, tremendous and promising year for tech startups due to the economic turndown in the first half. According to the measuring scale for the ecosystem, the report clears that validation of value creation has been achieved for both IPO and unicorns through technological innovation, Mr Rehan Yar Khan, Managing Partner says at Orios Venture Partners.
The report also notes 20% of the Unicorn Founders are non-engineers, 2/3rd of the Indian unicorns has been founders of one or more IIMs, ISB and IITs. Also highlighted, that about 13 of the Unicorn founders are female, out of which 8 have been featured in 2021: Falguni Nayar- Nykaa, Gazal Kalra- Rivigo, Ruchi Kalra- OfBusiness, Divya Gokulnath- Byju’s, Ghazal Alagh- MamaEarth, and Saritha Katikaneni- Zenoti and others.
“Writ Petition By Borrowers Challenging SARFAESI Proceedings Initiated By Private Banks/ARCs Not Maintainable”: Supreme Court
Bhuvana Iyer, Mumbai Uncensored, 13th January 2022 :
The Supreme Court Wednesday said borrowers, aggrieved by proceedings initiated under the SARFAESI ACT by the bank or the assets reconstruction company (ARC), have to avail the remedy under this law and no writ petition would be maintainable.
The apex court held this while vacating the order passed by the Karnataka High Court which had directed maintenance of status quo with regard to possession of mortgaged properties subject to the borrowers making a payment of Rs 1 crore with the ARC concerned.
The High Court of Karnataka entertained writ petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India filed by borrowers against an Assets Reconstructing Company and passed an interim order directing for maintaining status quo with regard to SARFAESI action (possession of the secured assets). Challenging this, the Assets Reconstructing Company (ARC) preferred appeals before the Apex Court.
A bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna, while referring to an earlier judgement delivered by the top court, opined that filing of writ petitions by the borrowers before the high court under Article 226 of the Constitution in the case was an “abuse of process” of the court.
The apex court delivered its judgement on the pleas filed by the ARC challenging the order passed by the high court, which had entertained the writ petition and passed interim order directing for maintaining status quo with regard to the proposed action under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act (SARFAESI) 2002.
The bench said the high court orders directing to maintain status quo with respect to possession of secured properties on payment of Rs three crore in all is “absolutely unjustifiable” as the dues are to the extent of approximately Rs 117 crores.
“Filing of the writ petition by the borrowers before the high court is nothing but an abuse of process of court. It appears that the high court has initially granted an ex-parte ad-interim order mechanically and without assigning any reasons”, it said.
“Even otherwise, it is required to be noted that a writ petition against the private financial institution – ARC – appellant herein under Article 226 of the Constitution of India against the proposed action/actions under section 13(4) of the SARFAESI Act can be said to be not maintainable”, the apex court noted.
It said the secured creditor or its assignor have a right to recover the amount due and payable to it from borrowers.
“The stay granted by the high court would have a serious adverse impact on the financial health of the secured creditor/assignor. Therefore, the high court should have been extremely careful and circumspect in exercising its discretion while granting stay in such matters”, the bench said, adding, “In these circumstances, the proceedings before the high court deserve to be dismissed.”
The bench said an ARC cannot be said to be performing public functions which are normally expected to be performed by the state authorities.
“During the course of a commercial transaction and under the contract, the bank/ARC lent the money to the borrowers herein and therefore the said activity of the bank/ARC cannot be said to be as performing a public function which is normally expected to be performed by the state authorities”, it noted.
The apex court, while allowing the appeals, vacated the interim order of August 2015, which was further extended by the orders passed in February 2017 and March 2018.
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