DBS Wanted to Buy 50% Stake of Lakshmi Vilas Bank in 2018, but RBI Rejected Deal, Says Promoter

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K R Pradeep, the single largest promoter of the crippled Lakshmi Vilas Bank with a 4.8 per cent shareholding, has said that Singapore’s DBS was keen to acquire 50 per cent stake in the lender for a high valuation in 2018 but the Reserve Bank did not allow the deal to go through. With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) superseding Lakshmi Vilas Bank’s board and mooting its merger with DBS Bank India, Pradeep also said he was confident that the central bank will be kind enough to listen to all the shareholders and promoters, and will not let them go empty handed.

Currently, Pradeep’s 4.8 per cent shareholding in the lender does not have any value and so are the rest of the promoters and other shareholders, including retail shareholders who own around 45 per cent of its equity. Apart from Pradeep, there are three other promoter families — N Ramamritham, N T Shah and S B Prabhakaran — who collectively own 2 per cent.

Together with Pradeep, the promoters’ holding is just 6.8 per cent. Institutional investors led by Indiabulls Housing have around 20 per cent stake in the 94-year-old lender. According to Pradeep, promoters are also looking at approaching markets watchdog Sebi but will wait for the final scheme of merger that the RBI will announce later in the day today.

“We have full faith that as the regulator the Reserve Bank will give us a patient hearing and that our inputs and objections to the draft scheme will be considered before taking a final call. So, it is too early to say whether we will be mounting a legal challenge to the regulatory decision,” Pradeep told.