Indian insider: Regulator bans tycoon from market for one year

The Securities and Exchange Board of India has banned Kishore Biyani and others for allegedly trading in shares of Future Retail ahead of the release of price-sensitive information in 2017.

Kishore Biyani, chief executive officer of Future Group, attends the inauguration of a warehouse in Nagpur, India
Kishore Biyani, chief executive officer of retailer Future Group, has disputed allegations by India's markets regulator of insider trading [File: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg]

India’s markets regulator has banned a retail tycoon from accessing the securities markets for a year on charges of insider trading, complicating his battle to keep his companies afloat.

The Securities & Exchange Board of India barred Kishore Biyani, his brother, and one of his holding vehicles, saying a company that’s part of their Future Group traded in the shares of group flagship Future Retail Ltd. in 2017 during a period when it had unpublished price-sensitive information. The regulator also fined all three, according to an order published Wednesday.

Biyani and the group firm have disputed the allegations, according to the order. Future Retail said in a statement that the sanction by the securities regulator against its founder won’t affect its plan to sell retail assets to Reliance Industries Ltd.

Future Retail is embroiled in a battle with Inc. over that deal, which the U.S. online retail giant is trying to block. An Indian court on Tuesday temporarily restrained Future Retail from disposing of the assets after objections from Amazon. The order could delay the deal, which is needed to alleviate a cash crunch at the group.

India Future Retail dollar bond price chart [Bloomberg]

The Mumbai-listed retailer missed an interest payment on its $500 million bond in January, but has said it plans to make the payment within the 30-day grace period allowed to it under the bond terms The bond maturing in 2025 fell 7.7 cents on Wednesday after the court order, the most in more than three months, and was down 0.4 cents to 78 cents on Thursday.

The securities market ban for Biyani, “on the face of it, it won’t become more difficult for group companies to raise money,” said J.N. Gupta, managing director at Stakeholders Empowerment Services, a proxy adviser. “The adverse impact will only be limited to the people mentioned, not the entire restructuring involved with the sale of assets to Reliance.”

Source: Bloomberg