sebi: NSE co-location case: Sebi wants unlawful gains quantified

NEW DELHI: In the high-profile NSE co-location case, markets regulator Sebi wants its forensic audit to quantify unlawful gains made by some brokers, allegedly in connivance with the exchange officials, which may put in limbo a settlement plea proposed by the bourse.There is a strong view within Sebi that settlement should not be considered at the moment as the case relates to a top market infrastructure institution and its outcome may have a significant impact on investor sentiments about regulatory framework in India, a top official said.When contacted, a spokesperson for NSE (National Stock Exchange) declined to comment on the status of the settlement plea, saying the bourse would not want to say anything on a matter between the exchange and the regulator.Sources aware about NSE's thinking said the work is on for the consent settlement, and the exchange on its part is also working out the quantifiable gains made by brokers, if any. They also said Sebi has welcomed consent mechanism in many cases before, and that is a positive sign.Regulatory sources maintained, however, that any settlement is unlikely at this juncture as the case is under the scanner of various regulators.They said Sebi has already decided to get an independent forensic audit done to quantify the alleged unlawful gains made by some brokers as probes conducted by NSE itself and through an exchange-appointed auditor have failed to answer some very important points.The regulator will also engage with various shareholders of the exchange as well as with the government and other major stakeholders in the capital market given the enormity of the case, sources added.The Securities and Exchange Board of India is looking to complete its probe at the earliest in the matter, which was first brought to its notice in 2015 by a whistleblower but the investigation gained pace only in the recent months.The case relates to some brokers allegedly getting preferential access through co-location facility at the NSE, early login and dark fiber, which can allow a trader a split- second faster access to data feed of an exchange.Even a split-second faster access is considered to result in huge gains for a trader.Pending investigations, Sebi has directed that all revenues emanating from co-location facility including the transaction charges on the trades executed through co-location facility be placed in a separate bank account.Accordingly, NSE has transferred Rs 375.51 crore to a separate account for September 2016 to March 2017 period. The regulator also wants to ascertain what component of this amount could have had an impact on the alleged preferential access to some brokers, sources said.The probe is already casting its shadow on the long- pending Rs 10,000 crore initial public offer of the exchange, while it has already seen a flurry of top-to-medium level executive exits.NSE's Vice Chairman and former CEO Ravi Narain also had to quit. He was among the last from the key senior-level team that was instrumental in setting up the exchange which began operations in 1994. The others from the startup team included Chitra Ramkrishna, who quit as CEO in December last year.

June 25, 2017 09:22 UTC

New India Assurance: New India Assurance IPO likely to hit capital market by December

NEW DELHI: Gearing up for the first-ever IPO by a PSU insurer, New India Assurance will soon be filing preliminary papers with markets regulator Sebi so that it can hit the market by December.New India Assurance is the largest among the four PSU general insurance companies that are wholly-owned by the government. "We are hoping that the initial public offer (IPO) process gets completed by the end of the calendar year if market conditions are favourable," New India Assurance Chairman-cum-Managing Director G Srinivasan told PTI.The company is in the process of filing the draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) for the proposed issue.The DRHP should be filed soon, he said, without giving a timeline.The authorised share capital of the company stood at Rs 300 crore and the paid-up share capital Rs 200 crore as on March 31, 2016. The government holds 100 per cent stake in the company.New India Assurance has reported a net profit at Rs 1,008 crore in 2016-17, up 22 per cent over the previous year, driven by investment income which whittled down the high underwriting losses.The insurer, with 16 per cent market share , had a domestic premium income of Rs 19,115 crore, a growth of 27.17 per cent from Rs 15,115 crore a year before.Headquartered in Mumbai, New India Assurance is the only Indian entity to have a trading desk at Lloyd's of London, the provider of specialist insurance services.In January this year, the Union Cabinet had approved the listing of general insurance companies in stock markets. The government, which currently holds 100 per cent in five public insurers -- New India Assurance, National Insurance, United Insurance, Oriental Insurance and reinsurance company General Insurance Corporation -- is looking to raise Rs 11,000 crore by selling its stake in general insurers.The government had approved dilution of up to 25 per cent equity stake in the five companies in tranches.New India Assurance and General Insurance Corporation have already appointed bankers and legal advisors.

June 25, 2017 09:00 UTC

China asks Pakistan, Afghanistan to meet halfway to improve ties

ISLAMABAD: China has asked Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve their bilateral ties and "meet each other halfway", underlining that tensions between the two countries were not conducive to regional stability.Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during talks with Pakistan Prime Minister's Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz yesterday discussed a range of bilateral issues as well as the situation in Afghanistan.Wang, who arrived here yesterday on a two-day trip after visiting Kabul, discussed the situation in the war-torn country and the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan that have been on a steep downslide.Wang was quoted by China's Xinhua news agency as saying that tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan are not conducive to their stability and development as well as regional cooperation, calling on both countries to meet each other halfway so as to improve bilateral ties.China was proposing a trilateral mechanism for cooperation for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and coordination of counter-terrorism actions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Dawn reported.Wang's visit is a follow-up to the discussions the Chinese leadership had with Pakistani and Afghan leaders on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit earlier this month on counter-terrorism cooperation and revival of the Afghan peace process.China has lately got increasingly involved in Afghanistan. Besides its bilateral engagement with both Islamabad and Kabul, it is part of a number of international processes on Afghanistan.Beijing's interest in Afghanistan is out of its security concerns related to presence of Uighur militants in Badakhshan province. Moreover, China's regional engagement is driven by its economic investment in Afghanistan and the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.For Beijing, peace and stability in Afghanistan is critical for both its own security and investments in Pakistan.Pakistan-Afghanistan rift have deepened further after the Afghan government put blame of the recent attack in Kabul's diplomatic area on Islamabad.

June 25, 2017 09:00 UTC