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Centre to consider CBI probe if A.P. seeks it

Special Correspondent

Chief Minister has written to Manmohan

NEW DELHI: Corporate Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta on Wednesday indicated that the Centre would take a view on a CBI probe into the Satyam case if Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy so desires.

“The Government will take a view on it, if it is so [Chief Minister Reddy having written to the Prime Minister],” Mr. Gupta told the media here on being asked if the government was considering a CBI probe.

Expressing his openness to a CBI probe into the matter, Mr. Reddy had said in his letter to Dr. Singh: “Investigation has so far revealed embellishment of bank accounts by the company [Satyam Computer Services] for more than seven years to impress the clients within the country and overseas...Our Government would welcome making over the case to the CBI, if deemed appropriate.”

Open offer pricing

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has made it clear that anybody could approach the market regulator for seeking relaxation in open offer pricing norms. The clarification by SEBI Chairman C.B. Bhave came in the wake of speculation that engineering giant Larsen & Toubro (L&T) which raised its stake in Satyam to 12 per cent had sought the relaxation in its bid to take over the crisis-ridden IT major.

“Anybody can approach SEBI [with regard to relaxation in the open offer pricing norms],” Mr. Bhave said when asked whether L&T had approached the market regulator. Beyond that, “I have no comments,” he said.

Under the current norms of open offer pricing, any potential buyer company which picks up a 15 per cent equity stake in the target company is required to make an open offer to other shareholders giving an option to them to exit the company by selling their shares at a price not less than the average share price of the past six months.

L&T stake

On January 23, L&T hiked its stake in Satyam to 12 per cent from the earlier four per cent through purchase of shares from the stock market. Seemingly intent on reaching the 15 per cent stake level, the engineering major is now said to be seeking relaxation of the six-month average price norm for the open offer on the plea that it would have to shell out a much higher price than the prevailing market price under the existing norms.

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