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Hush-hush tales from the world of stock markets, banking, corporate world and corridors of power

MC Insider: High-spirits promoter, look who’s selling, fizzy stock, the banker who beat the bank, and more

Last Updated: June 20, 2022 / 08:43 AM IST

What’s brewing?

This promoter has been steadily accumulating shares of his company like a diligent hunter gatherer for the past some months now. A rights issue too helped fortify the holding as many public shareholders gave the offering a pass. Chatter about a long-term deal with a French spirits major has been doing the rounds for a while now, without anything coming of it so far. Does the promoter know something that the market doesn’t, or is it a literal case of ‘getting high’ on one’s own supply? Watch this space for more.

Strategic timeout

Strategic timeout

This Titan of Dalal Street loves to preach the long-term India story and often tilts at the windmills about Indians not having enough faith in their own country’s potential. But right now seems to be the time to play trader and not value investor. Always quick to sense the market mood, the Titan is said to be dumping some of his favourite stocks, most likely with the aim of buying them back at lower levels when sentiment changes for the better.

Old Fox’s dilemma

Old Fox’s dilemma

The abovementioned Titan’s mentor too is said to have taken a bearish view on the market. This Old Fox of Dalal Street was among the handful of players who called it right during the crash of 2008, and made a fortune going short on stocks. And while market conditions today are somewhat similar, the Fox now is better known as an industry captain than a trader-investor, and needs to preserve that image. Having created immense wealth for his shareholders over the years, he can’t afford to be seen as someone equally capable of destroying wealth of other companies’ shareholders through bear raids. Besides, there could be regulatory issues as well. And yet he can’t seem to turn his back on the market completely, given that it has entered an interesting phase. While regulations have become tight over the years, there are other avenues to play the market while keeping a low profile, the Kolkata channel being one of them.

The lamp still burns

The lamp still burns

Bears looking for easy pickings by going short on a chemical stock have been surprised by the ferocity of the counterattack by the bulls. The company, a poster child of the sector, suffered a setback recently, prompting bears to move in for the kill. Chatter is that bulls have the backing of friendly circles. The company is looking to raise funds through a share offering, and a steady stock price definitely helps the cause.

Excellent timing

Excellent timing

Veteran investors and traders say that it is next to impossible to exit at the top or buy at the bottom. But this footwear major appears to have gotten lucky by selling a small part of its stake just before the stock collapsed along with the rest of the market. To be fair, it had indicated a reasonable floor to prospective buyers. But fund managers who bid aggressively for a piece of pie are now wondering what prompted the company to sell a small stake out of the blue. The company seems to have got its timing right, but the money managers are on the back foot for now.

On a slippery slope

On a slippery slope

Deep-pocketed high net worth individuals who had taken up leveraged positions in ONGC thinking crude related stocks were the safest bets in this market are in a spot of bother. The stock has nosedived over the last week, as some foreign funds have been dumping it lock, stock and barrel. This may be not be a referendum on the company’s fundamentals; just that foreign institutional investors are able to sell large chunks of liquid stocks more easily. And all that talk about windfall tax and subsidy sharing is only making matters tough for the bulls.

Banker beats the bank

Banker beats the bank

A years-long litigation between a sacked banker and the bank, his former employer, has finally come to an end. And the banker has won a handsome compensation — talking about laughing all the way to the bank. The case was adjourned at least 15 times during the prolonged hearing process. The outcome can potentially set a precedent in similar cases. The premise for the case is the abrupt sacking of a former senior banker, also an active bank union member at that time. The bank management chose to sack the man without a notice that drew the ire of employees and led to prolonged agitations. Yet, the bank refused to budge, forcing the banker to move court. The case went on for years. Finally, the man — it appears — stands vindicated.

Lager than life

Lager than life

After a win in Punjab, the beer industry’s ambition is as frothy as one of its well-brewed pints, and it is eyeing Maharashtra now. The representatives of a top brewer recently met Maharashtra officials lobbying for a reduction in excise duty on beer, which is taxed higher than hard liquor in the state. Brewers are lobbying to get beer taxed per the the alcohol content and not total volume. The state is worried about a reduction in revenue, but cheaper beer could bump up sales and taxes too just like it has in UP, West Bengal and Haryana, according to the lobbyists. If their argument wins the day, happy hours will get extended for beer lovers in the state. Hic, hic!

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