DID ITC Chairman Y.C. Deveshwar give an interview to PTI, in which he said that it was Chugh who introduced the Chitalias to ITC and that BAT wanted a new chairman at ITC? PTI put the interview on the wires by the evening of November 1, and Deveshwar was immediately denying the contents. PTI sources claim that he even called up the news agency and asked for the interview to be taken off the wires. The agency refused. The episode surprised corporate circles since Deveshwar has always been known to be extremely adroit at handling the media.
With Singapore-based ITC Global Holdings in deep trouble—its net worth wiped out, and ITC not allowed by the Reserve Bank of India to infuse $20 million of additional capital into the company—one bank chewing off its fingernails is Hongkong Bank. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) is ITC Global’s largest creditor and there seems to be no hope of it ever getting repaid. Some time ago, HSBC Chairman William Purves reportedly wrote to ITC vice-chairman Saurabh Misra looking for succour, but Misra replied that ITC Global was a separate business entity and ITC was in no way connected with the HSBC’s loans to ITC’s troubled progeny.
And finally, how much is BAT’s actual shareholding in ITC today? Though no accurate answer is available to this crucial question, highly-placed sources believe that at least three British foreign institutional investors have been picking up volumes of ITC stock since late last year and holding the shares on behalf of BAT. As a result, BAT today may be effectively controlling around 40 per cent of ITC, up from its original 32 per cent. This would put it ahead of the FIs which own 38 per cent. That’s why, goes the buzz, BAT managers appear so confident about finally getting control of ITC management and getting the finacial institutions to agree to the new corporate structure BAT is demanding.