Troubled Wall Street bank Merrill Lynch has sold its 5% stake in financial services firm Religare Enterprises for Rs 103.5 crore. The 5% was allotted to Merrill Lynch as part of the pre-IPO stake sale by Religare Enterprises last year. The stake sale comes after the one year lock-in period ended in November this year. Merrill Lynch bought the stake for about Rs 60 crore, and stake has been sold at a return of 72.5%. Despite the stock market crash, the scrip is trading much above its IPO issue price of Rs 185.
The shares in Religare were sold on Friday at the National Stock Exchange by Indopark Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch. The shares were sold at a price of Rs 275, which is also the 52-week low of Religare Enterprises. The stock closed yesterday at a price Rs 315. Religare Enterprise's 52-week high was Rs 730.
This appears to be a distress sale for Merrill Lynch, which is shedding its non-core assets worldwide. Merrill is being acquired by Bank of America for $50 billion. The top management of the investment bank is also giving up bonuses for the year 2008. Among listed Indian firms, Merrill Lynch also holds a 8.72% stake in Shriram City Union Finance.
Religare has announced a Rs 1,800 crore rights issue in October this year. The promoters, which is the Singh family of Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals, have given their commitment to subscribe for the
unsubscribed portion. Ranbaxy Pharmaceutical's Singhs signed a deal with Japanese pharma company Daiichi Sankyo in June this year to sell their 34.8% stake in the company for Rs 9,576 crore.