India’s markets regulator has banned a retail tycoon from accessing the securities markets for a year on charges of insider trading, complicating his battle to keep his companies afloat.
The Securities & Exchange Board of India barred Kishore Biyani, his brother, and one of his holding vehicles, saying a company that’s part of their Future Group traded in the shares of group flagship Future Retail Ltd. in 2017 during a period when it had unpublished price-sensitive information. The regulator also fined all three, according to an order published Wednesday.
Biyani and the group firm have disputed the allegations, according to the order. Future Retail said in a statement that the sanction by the securities regulator against its founder won’t affect its plan to sell retail assets to Reliance Industries Ltd.
Future Retail is embroiled in a battle with Amazon.com Inc. over that deal, which the U.S. online retail giant is trying to block. An Indian court on Tuesday temporarily restrained Future Retail from disposing of the assets after objections from Amazon. The order could delay the deal, which is needed to alleviate a cash crunch at the group.
The Mumbai-listed retailer missed an interest payment on its $500 million bond in January, but has said it plans to make the payment within the 30-day grace period allowed to it under the bond terms The bond maturing in 2025 fell 7.7 cents on Wednesday after the court order, the most in more than three months, and was down 0.4 cents to 78 cents on Thursday.
The securities market ban for Biyani, “on the face of it, it won’t become more difficult for group companies to raise money,” said J.N. Gupta, managing director at Stakeholders Empowerment Services, a proxy adviser. “The adverse impact will only be limited to the people mentioned, not the entire restructuring involved with the sale of assets to Reliance.”