Azim Premji may hike stake in JM Financial

As JM Financial awaits RBI view on its bank licence plea, market is abuzz with talks of billionaire Azim Premji buying additional five per cent stake in the company that has also roped in former Citibank chief Vikram Pandit as a key investor for its banking pursuit.

Premji, chairman and founder of leading IT firm Wipro, currently holds 2.9 per cent stake as part of his individual investment portfolio in Nimesh Kampani-led JM Financial, one of the 25 aspirants eyeing banking foray.

While spokespersons for JM Financial as also for Premji did not reply to queries in this regard, market sources said that the company may allot fresh shares amounting to up to five per cent additional stake to the IT czar.

While there was no official confirmation, sources said that the shares can be allotted at a significant premium to the current share price. JM Financial shares closed 5.1 per cent up at Rs 28.85 apiece on Friday.

Premji Invest, the family investment arm of Premji, holds shares in a number of companies as financial investments and some of them have been liquidated in the past.

The stake sale to Premji would also help JM Financial bring down its promoter shareholding, which eventually needs to be lowered to 51 per cent to comply with public holding regulations related to setting up of a new bank.

An integrated financial services entity, Kampani-controlled JM Financial has interests in investment banking, institutional equity sales and portfolio management, among others.

Under the RBI guidelines, promoter group would be permitted to set up a bank only through a wholly-owned Non-Operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC).

Further, the companies promoting the NOFHC should have at least 51 per cent public shareholding.

"... companies forming part of the promoter group whereof companies in which the public hold not less than 51 per cent of the voting equity shares shall hold not less than 51 per cent of the total voting equity shares of the NOFHC," as per the guidelines.

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