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Why Is Karsan Bhai Patel Delisting Nirma?

31 January, 2011

When every entrepreneur dreams of listing his company, it’s strange one of India’s most famous entrepreneurs is taking his company private. India’s leading value-for-money detergent maker Nirma Ltd has moved a step further in delisting from Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange.

The company’s open offer to buy the remaining 22.8% shares from the public market is considered successful as the promoters who currently own 77.2% – have bought up enough shares that their stake is now over 90% limit, which is the mandatory holding according to SEBI rules for delisting.

Nirma is not just another company. Founded in 1984 by Karsan Bhai Patel, Ahmedabad-based Nirma brought multinational giants like Hindustan Unilever and Procter & Gamble to their knees. The company reached number two position in the Rs 11,000 crore detergents market in a matter of few years purely on the basis of its pricing, distribution and the famous advertising jingle. However, it reportedly lost that position to P&G now, which is another matter.

But Nirma is that legendary company that challenged MNCs in India. Nirma Vs HUL is a case study in world’s top B-schools. It was that homegrown giant India showcased as one the domestic entrepreneurial successes. So suddenly the move to delist is a surprise.

There could be various corporate objectives. But there is no explanation from the company on why it’s delisting. There are reports that the promoters want to avoid public disclosures and market glare by delisting. They apparently don’t want to explain every action of theirs to the stock markets. Patel is very reclusive and media shy. He is also not available for meetings or calls with stock market analysts. So there is little interest from institutional investors in stock too.

A Times of India report says Patel has plans to unlock value after he takes the company private. He may go in for separate listings of its different existing and proposed verticals â” FMCG, pharma, chemicals, cement, ports, infrastructure and also power – after some value creation.

The company has a consumer product portfolio of toilet soaps, detergents, salt (Shudh brand) and dish washing products, besides an industrial products portfolio.

Analysts view the company is facing tough competition from other multinational and even domestic companies in soaps and detergents. Companies like ITC, Godrej Consumer Products and Reckitt Benckiser are giving a tough fight there. The company has also not been making any visible moves in other high growth categories. For instance, Jyothy Laboratories another homegrown FMCG “giant” has been very aggressive in diversifying into other categories like household insecticide, frangrances, utensil cleaners and personal care.

For a highly entrepreneurial company like Nirma, it looks like delisting is a step backward. Unless Patel has an ace up his sleeve, and he is refusing to reveal that. Till then, keep a watch on Nirma.


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Why Is Karsan Bhai Patel Delisting Nirma?

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