Actis-controlled lighting products maker Halonix (formerly Phoenix Lamps) has roped in Wipro Lighting veteran Rajesh Kochhar as its new managing director. He takes over from Rajeev Prasad who resigned in August.

Mr Kochhar has been with Wipro Lighting since 1991 (when Wipro ventured into the lighting as a part of its consumer business). Most recently he was the country head for Swiss electrical products firm Landis + Gyr since January 2009. The 51-year-old BITS (Pilani) grad started his career with Genelec in 1979.

Halonix makes halogen lamps for automobiles besides compact fluorescent lamps for general lighting purpose. Actis owns 66% in the company since early 2007, making Halonix one of the few PE-controlled public companies in the country. The former promoters who held 45% (before Actis invested in the company) still figure among the large shareholders owning over 6% in the company as of September 2009.

For the year ended March 2009, it had a top line of Rs 400 crore with negligible net profit. The bottom line deteriorated last year after the company reported Rs 48-crore net profit for 2007-08.It is not clear if this was the trigger point for the change in management.

Actis had bought 36.7% of the promoters in Phoenix Lamps for Rs 133 crore in mid 2006. This was followed up with an open offer to buy another 20% stake in the company. The open offer got embroiled in a controversy due to differences in valuation between what was paid by Actis to promoters and the price of the offer for public shareholders.

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had then taken a view that public investors should get the same price as the promoters during open offers even if a part of the original acquisition price is disguised as non-compete premium. Actis had offered the open offer at Rs 152 originally against what it paid to the promoters of Phoenix at Rs 192 a share.

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