All in the Family: The Hindu BusinessLine Editorial

All in the Family The Hindu BusinessLine Editorial

All in the Family: The Hindu BusinessLine Editorial

Related-party deals, unless curbed, can seriously compromise governance and investor confidence at Indian Mutual Funds
The Securities Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) private ‘advisory’ to ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund, asking the asset manager to refund ₹240 crore plus interest to investors in its schemes, flags hitherto (until now or until the point in time under discussion) hidden governance issues for mutual fund (MF) investors. The issue pertains (applicable) to ICICI Pru MF’s decision to invest ₹640 crore in the recent IPO of ICICI Securities. The regulator’s contention (an assertion maintained in argument) is that the fund house has effectively engaged in an act of bailing out (to get someone out of trouble) its sister firm when its IPO was in danger of floundering (be in serious difficulty). The stock has since dropped 40 per cent below its offer price. The fund house’s defence is that it did not violate the prudential limits set out in SEBI’s mutual fund regulations and that it made a bona fide (without intention to deceive) investment, based on ICICI Securities’ prospects.
The second defence is weak, for SEBI has found that ICICI Pru Mutual Fund did not place its IPO bids at one go. After investing ₹400 crore on Day One of the book-built offer, it invested another ₹240 crore on the last day. SEBI also seems to have the data to show that but for this afterthought (something that is thought of or added later), the IPO would have failed to go through. If the fund managers were really convinced that the group firm was a great investment opportunity, there would be no need to break up the bids, or wait until theeleventh hour (at the last moment). However, there are two grey areas (ill-defined situation or area of activity not readily conforming to a category or set of rules) to SEBI’s actions too. One, having decided to ask the fund house to make refunds, it has taken refuge in a private ‘advisory’ to ICICI Pru MF instead of passing a public order to this effect. This forces investors to rely on conjecture (an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information) and hearsay (information heard by one person about another) on this issue, and sets no precedent for the future. Two, while there are obvious conflicts of interest to a MF investing in group entities, SEBI’s MF regulations do not specifically forbid funds from taking group exposures. While there are scheme-specific caps on stock, sector and group exposures to avoid concentration risks (risk related to the default of a debtor), MFs dealing with associates or group firms are required to make only half-yearly disclosures of such deals, post facto (after the event). But investors seldom peruse (read something in a thorough or careful way) the half-yearly accounts of their MFs and such disclosures come too late to make a difference.


1. Hitherto (Adverb) – Until now or until the point in time under discussion (अब तक)

2. Pertain (Verb) – Applicable (संबंधित)
Synonyms – Apply, Refer, Relate, Affect, Appertain, Associate, Befit, Belong, Combine, Concern, Connect, Join, Regard, Touch, Vest
Antonyms – Disconnect, Disjoin, Divide, Part, Separate

3. Contention (Noun) – An assertion maintained in argument (तर्क)
Synonyms – Allegation, Belief, Claim, Discussion, Explanation, Hypothesis, Idea, Opinion, Plea, Position, Thesis
Antonyms – Accord, Agreement, Harmony, Peace, Approval, Authorization, Compliment, Concurrence

4. Bail out (Phrase) – To get someone out of trouble (उबारना)

5. Flounder (Verb) – Be in serious difficulty (लड़खड़ाना)
Synonyms – Flop, Stumble, Wallow, Blunder, Bobble, Flummox, Fumble, Grope, Labor, Lurch, Muddle, Plunge, Pratfall, Snafu, Strive, Thrash, Toil, Toss, Travail, Tumble
Antonyms – Idle, Laze, Do well, Succeed

6. Bona fide (Adverb) – Without intention to deceive (यथार्थ)
Synonyms – Genuine, Legitimate, Authentic, Authoritative
Antonyms – Illegitimate

7. Afterthought (Noun) – Something that is thought of or added later (काम करने के बाद का विचार)
Synonyms – Reconsideration, Review, Second thought
Antonyms – Forethought

8. The eleventh hour (Phrase) – At the last moment

9. Grey area (Noun) – An ill-defined situation or area of activity not readily conforming to a category or set of rules (संदेहास्पद विषय)

10. Conjecture (Noun)– An opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information (अनुमान)
Synonyms – Guess, Speculation, Surmise, Fancy, Notion, Belief, Suspicion, Presumption, Assumption, Theory, Hypothesis, Postulation, Supposition; Inference, Extrapolation, Projection, Approximation, Estimate
Antonyms – Proof, Reality, Truth, Calculation, Certainty, Fact

11. Hearsay (Noun) – Information heard by one person about another (सुनी सुनाई)
Synonyms – Gossip, Clothesline, Comment, Rumble, Rumor, Scandal
Antonyms – Evidence, Proof, Reality, Testimony, Truth

12. Concentration risk (Economics) – A risk related to the default of a debtor

13. Post facto (Adjective) – After the occurrence of the event
Synonyms – Done afterward, Post factum, Posterior, Retroactive, Retrospective, Sequent, Subsequent, Succeeding

14. Peruse (Verb) – Read something in a thorough or careful way (अवलोकन करना)
Synonyms – Analyze, Browse, Inspect, Look through, Pore over, Scan, Scrutinize, Skim, Read, Study, Glance over
Antonyms – Neglect, Overlook

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