Together with this senior journalist promoters published reports on December 21 and 22, 2008 that SEBI had ordered Promoters to make an open offer for an additional 20 per cent stake in Pyramid at a price not less than Rs 250 per share within 14 days, for allegedly violating creeping acquisition norms. At that time the stock was trading at Rs 60. Following more recommendations from the journalist the stock shot up since promoters were to buy a Rs 60 stock at Rs 250 everybody started buying. The promoters and Economic Times Asst Editor were laughing all the way to the bank as they offloaded huge stake in the company.
But SEBI was surprised. Following investigations, SEBI found that the forgery was done to manipulate the stock price of PSTL and Nirmal Kotecha was one of the major beneficiaries and Economic Times Editor connived in this. All have been debarred from trading.
I never trusted promoters and offloading their stake always bothers me. But I am more surprised by the role that Assistant Editor of Economic Times played in this whole scam. Come-on we read this business daily. Should we no more trust on what it says? If as an investor you look forward to it for unbiased comments on the companies then sorry, Times Group papers is the wrong place.
You should know about the Times Group ‘Private Treaties’ service. Private Treaties is a pact between the Times of India group and approximately 100-odd companies, under which Times Group buys shares of some small companies. The list is expanding rapidly. The share purchase money is immediately taken back against the promise of guaranteed advertising in Group publications—to build the investee company’s brand(s). So for Times Group to gain from appreciation in stock value the brands have to be built, so there has to be the positive coverage on the companies always.
Unfortunately Pyramid Saimira Ltd.was also a Private Treaties client of Times Group. The name still appears on the clientlete list on their website. Check at www.timesprivatetreaties.com/portfolio/list-as-per-industry.html
MoneyLIFE, a website has in its possession a document to prove that Time group journalists are being designated as “champions” for Private Treaties clients to tailor editorial coverage to enhance the value of these companies and Times group investment.
An e-mail by The Economic Times editor Rahul Joshi (dated 29-Nov-2007) says:
“At ET, we are carving out a separate team to look into the needs of Private Treaty clients. Every large centre will have a senior editorial person to interface with Treaty clients. In turn, the senior edit person will be responsible, along with the existing team, for edit delivery. This team will have regional champions along with one or two reporters for help—but more importantly, they will liaise with REs (Resident Editors) and help in integrating the content into the different sections of the paper. In this way, we will be able to incorporate PT into the editorial mainstream, rather than it looking like a series of press releases appearing in vanilla form in the paper.”
In the past two years, Times Group has invested over Rs. 2,000 crore in 114-odd companies in diverse businesses. (Check website www.timesprivatetreaties.com)
Typically, the group buys a 5%-10% stake in mid-sized companies which plan an IPO. The company agrees to invest an equal amount in advertising in Times publications over a three-to-five-year period at a steep discount to the normal advertising rates.
Most companies that sign Private treaties are planning public issues, selling expensive realty projects or looking for private equity. All of them are looking for publicity and an assurance of POSITIVE Editorial Coverage. For the Times Group, it is a double bubble. First it gives Significant Capital Appreciation and tax-free income (since there is no long-term capital gains tax)—on the other hand, advertising revenue is fully taxed.
Here are some of the Clients of Times Group Private Treaties on which you will never hear a bad news.
- Deccan Aviation
- HDIL Ltd.
- Rajesh Exports Ltd
Vishal Retail Pvt Ltd
Do you think that you will ever read negative articles about these companies in Economic Times? Economic Times is the most read business daily in India. A lot of people including Fund Managers make investment decisions based on Economic Times. It is one of the biggest conflicts of interest and a major sham which Times Group has been running. And so yesterday I changed my newspaper.
Post Script: Well Bartronics Ltd is also in the list about which I had expressed concerns in my blog in Feb Read Story here. A lot of people had commented that falling promoters stake is not a concern. Well to update you all on demand by SEBI promoters have released the number of shares they have pledged. Go to BSE website check out it seems that in Mar-09 quarter they have pledged each and every share they owned !!