Reliance Capital Blog

Reliance Capital, India's Berkshire Hathaway

Monday, March 09, 2009

ADAG set to take over Wall St Fin

Reliance Money, a fully owned subsidiary of Reliance Capital Ltd of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, is set to take controlling stake in Wall Street Finance Ltd, the Bombay Stock Exchange-listed non-banking finance company.

The ADAG group entity, which already has 36.55% in the remittance major through a subsidiary called Reliance Money Express, is looking to infuse more capital through a preferential allotment.

This will eventually lead to a majority stake for the Ambani group, according to a source familiar with the development.

"We are looking to infuse funds. First, the shareholders must approve," said Sudip Bandyopadhyay, director & CEO, Reliance Money, who is also a member of the Wall Street board, talking to DNA Money from Hong Kong. He refused to give details.

Wall Street Finance itself is seeking a shareholder approval for alteration of share capital in an extraordinary general meeting on Friday. According to a filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange, the company is seeking to pass an ordinary resolution wherein it will expand the current authorised share capital of the company from Rs 22 crore to Rs 82 crore.

The company will create and allot 1 crore equity shares of Rs 10 each and 60 lakh redeemable preference shares of Rs 100 each. It will also cancel 10 lakh cumulative preference shares of Rs 100 each. A second shareholder meeting on Friday will also consider a scheme of arrangement between Wall Street Finance Ltd and Goldman Securities Pvt Ltd (a 100% arm).

The demerged Goldman will be vested with InstantCash, a money-remittance brand in the US, now owned by Wall Street Finance's US unit, which has a remittance licence in that country. This will be followed by renaming of Goldman Securities.

According to World Bank data, India overtook China to become the world's largest recipient of remittance money in 2008, amounting to $31 billion. The global business leader in this segment is Western Union. Reliance Money is aiming to break into this league through both international and local remittance business.

Wall St Finance has already applied to the Reserve Bank of India in October last to be a domestic money remittance licencee, which will compete with the money order business.

The company's shareholders will also consider a special resolution to give sweeping powers to the company's board of directors to decide on the time and mode of share allotment. Repeated attempts to contact Areef A Patel, promoter of Wall Street Finance, failed.

The Patel family, which runs the Patel Roadways, one of India's biggest fleet operators, was holding close to 66% stake in this 20-year-old company. Late last year, the family transferred half of that stake to Reliance Money Express by selling Wall Street Constructions, another group firm, to Reliance Money Express.

By virtue of that transaction, Reliance Money became a co-promoter of Wall Street Finance because it got a 35% stake in the company. Subsequently Wall Street Constructions was merged with Reliance Money Express and the former now ceases to exist.

Meantime, both Reliance Money Express and the Patel family have been buying shares in the open market over the last two months, after this transaction. Reliance Money, which had a stake of 35.63% as on December 31, 2008, has upped it to 36.5% by buying over 1 lakh shares in the open market.

Areef A Patel also bought nearly 44,000 shares in the open market after December 31, 2008.