THE ITC scrip has always been a hot favourite with speculators. Expectedly, over Wednesday (when the news of the raids broke) to Friday, the ITC scrip shed only 7 per cent, from Rs 321 to Rs 299 in Mumbai, even as group companies touched new 52-week lows. But volumes were big. Wednesdays turnover was Rs 116.94 crore, compared to the previous recorded figure of Rs 57.69 crore. Several brokers, who had gone short on the scrip, rushed to square up their positions towards the end of the settlement. On Friday, the BSE counter clocked volumes of 26 lakh shares worth Rs 79 crore, and the NSE, 84 lakh shares worth Rs 241 crore.
The absence of large-scale panic is due to two reasons. Primarily, BAT. Brokers feel a takeover is imminent and are holding on to the scrips. BAT shares in London edged up 4 per cent on Wednesday, encouraged by a 9 per cent rise in its nine-month pre-tax profits. The other safety net was the companys financial brain, Feroze Vevainas long-term capital strategy. Since 1994, he has invested considerably in prominent BSE members, even picking up a 30 per cent stake in one. At the companys hour of need, they came to the rescue.