Viswanath Pilla Moneycontrol News
This past week was an action packed one for pharma and healthcare sectors, with events at Fortis Healthcare and the government slashing ceiling prices of coronary stents hoarding the headlines.
Investors of Fortis had to sit through a roller coaster ride as the company’s stock reacted sharply to the news flow.
The troubles for the company and its embattled promoters Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, referred to as the Singh brothers, have got more complicated. Media headlines have called it the beginning of the "endgame" for the billionaire brothers.
To be sure, the Singh brothers have indicated that they are not ones to take it on the chin and move on.
"We would now like to fight for our justice and pride at this point and not for economics only," said a statement by RHC Holding Pvt. Ltd, the holding company promoted by the brothers, after the Supreme Court dismissed their plea challenging Delhi High Court’s order allowing Japanese drug maker Daiichi Sankyo to enforce a foreign arbitration award of Rs 3,500 crore.
Much to the chagrin of the Singh brothers, the apex court even declined to interfere in the case.
After the Supreme Court’s latest order, the Singh brothers have now exhausted almost all their legal options in India to block the enforcement of the arbitration award.
The brothers have said they will appeal against the arbitration award in Singapore courts as they still believe they have been wronged in the majority Singapore arbitration award. The case has already hurt and crippled the entire group.
The past week for Fortis started on a bad note with credit rating firm ICRA downgrading loans worth Rs 1,170 crore. Taking a cue from ICRA, Care Ratings too lowered Fortis’ ratings on loans worth Rs 853 crore. Both the firms have expressed concerns over the company’s liquidity position after a disclosure about advances of Rs 473 crore extended to the Singh brothers.
Both firms said they are closely monitoring the developments at Fortis.
Fortis’ board, which met on Tuesday, sought an extension of 15 days to declare second and third quarter results of FY18 as the statutory auditors informed the company that the audit process may not be complete before the stipulated date of the board meeting.
Fortis also announced that the company signed a definitive agreement to acquire assets of Singapore-listed RHT Health Trust for Rs 4,650 crore, which includes Rs 1,152 crore of debt that will be repaid.
The lenders to Fortis got some relief after the Supreme Court lifted the stay on sale of pledged shares held by Fortis promoters.
The order allows lenders to sell shares pledged by the Singh brothers and recover their dues. To be sure, all the moves indicate that Singh brothers have been on the lookout for a strategic buyer for Fortis.
The Singh brothers have also announced that they stepped down from Religare Enterprises’ board this week.
Other news that made the front pages was the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority’s decision to further cut ceiling prices of the most commonly used drug-eluting stent (DES) by 5.8 percent, as it pursues the policy of price controls on coronary stents citing larger public interest.
After the latest revision, the price of DES, a product that constitutes 95 percent of the market, is now capped at Rs 27,890.
The government raised ceiling price of bare metal stents (BMS) by 5.5 percent to Rs 7,660.
Both prices were excluding GST. The government charges 5 percent GST on stents.