Millennium Post

Sebi penalises HUL’s British parent Unilever, 6 of its other promoters

The delay in the disclosure of shareholding data was found on as many as five occasions between 2006 and 2010, while such delays ranged from four days to 31 days, Sebi said in an order, directing seven promoters of Hindustan Unilever (HUL) to pay the penalty within 45 days. The main promoter Unilever Plc, which holds 51.53 per cent stake, has been asked to pay a fine of Rs 8 lakh, while six other promoters — Brooke Bond Group Ltd, Unilever Overseas Holdings AG, Unilever UK & CN Holdings Ltd, Brooke Bond South India Estates Ltd, Unilever Overseas Holdings BV and Brooke Bond Assam Estates Ltd — have been imposed fines of Rs seven lakh each. Together these seven promoters hold 67.25 per cent stake in HUL.

The disproportionate gain or unfair advantage to these entities, or loss caused to the investors, as a result of the default is not quantifiable but  Sebi said, the default was of repetitive nature and details of shareholding and their timely disclosure were importat for investors. ‘Though it may not be possible to ascertain the monetary loss to investors on account of default by the noticees, the details of the shareholding of the noticees and timely disclosure thereof, were of significant importance from the point of view of investors as that would have prompted them to buy or sell shares of the company.

‘The disclosures obligations under SAST (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeover) Regulations are critical and an important component of the legal regime governing substantial acquisition of shares and takeovers.

‘In the absence of these timely disclosures, the investors will be deprived of important information at the relevant point of time. It is also evident that the noticees have committed the defaults on more than one occasion and as such, the default on the part of the noticees is repetitive in nature,’ Sebi said.

The regulation breached by these entities require that a promoter or every entity having control over a company shall, within 21 days from the financial year ending March 31, as well as the record date of the company for the purpose of declaration of dividend, disclose the number and percentage of shares or voting rights, held directly or by persons acting in concert, in that company.
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