I-T attaches CCD founder’s stake in Mindtree

Action over potential tax demand bars ‘transfer or charge’ of 74.9 lakh shares controlled by Siddhartha

January 26, 2019 10:12 pm | Updated 10:12 pm IST - New Delhi

The Income Tax (I-T) Department has attached a portion of shares held by V.G. Siddhartha and Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd. in information technology (IT) firm Mindtree over a potential tax demand, a development that could impact the potential stake sale by the Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) founder in the Bengaluru-based company.

Mr. Siddhartha, who owns about 21% stake in Mindtree, is said to be in advanced discussions with various entities to sell his shares in the IT company.

In a BSE filing on Saturday, Mindtree said that the I-T department in Bengaluru had issued a “provisional attachment u/s 281B of Income Tax or prohibitory orders Act, 1961 for tax demand likely to be raised by the I-T Department on...shareholders of the company — Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd. and V.G. Siddhartha.”

It added that the attachment also “prohibited for transfer or charge” of 22.2 lakh equity shares of Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd., and 52.7 lakh shares held by Mr. Siddhartha. The order would be applicable for six months from the date of the order i.e. January 25, 2019, it said.

At the end of December 2018 quarter, Mr. Siddhartha held 54.69 lakh shares (3.3% stake) in Mindtree, while Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd. had more than 1.74 crore shares (10.63% stake). Another entity, Coffee Day Trading Ltd. holds over 1.05 crore shares (6.45% holding). Mindtree’s promoters, which include Subroto Bagchi, Krishnakumar Natarajan, N.S. Parthasarathy, and Rostow Ravanan, together hold roughly 13% stake in the company.

‘Talks are on’

As per reports, Mr. Siddhartha is in advanced talks with L&T Infotech (LTI) and private equity firm KKR to sell his stake in the mid-sized IT services company. Also, there has been speculation that such a sale by Mr. Siddhartha could trigger a hostile takeover at the company, even as the founders are said to be making all-out efforts to counter any such developments.

Both Mr. Siddhartha and Mindtree’s founders have not made any specific comments on the issue so far.

During the Q3 earnings call recently, the management skirted questions on the speculation, saying it remained committed to delivering growth for the company. “This is something that is not in our control. Shareholders make their own decisions on when they want to buy, how much they want to buy, when they want to sell, etc. It is outside our purview in that sense,” Mr. Ravanan, who is also the CEO and managing director, had said.

Mr. Ravanan had further said: “We can make sure that things go right at Mindtree, we take care of people, customers and continue to deliver industry-leading growth, so the stake sale is not something that we have a view on or would like to make a comment.”

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