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Lesson for India from Tesla

Akhilesh Bhargava

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It was on 7th August, 2018, that Elon Musk, the maverick founder of Tesla Motors tweeted, that he was considering taking Tesla private, by buying back its shares from the public at USD 420 per share, and that he had secured the funding for it. It was an impulsive tweet, with no basis whatsoever. It created a chaos in the American stock markets. Trading in the shares of Tesla was suspended and its share price fell, amidst chaos and confusion in the stock markets. It hurt shareholder interest and warranted strict action from the regulator.

SEC, the American regulator of securities/stock markets swiftly got into action. It sued him for securities fraud and corporate misgovernance and decided that he was not fit to lead a company. His other misbehaviour, which included smoking marijuana, wielding a sword on a webcast and attacking a British rescue diver at Thailand, by calling him a paedophile must have added to the SEC’s ire. It thus came down heavily on him as well as Tesla.

In a quick settlement between SEC, Tesla and Elon Musk, the company and its temperamental founder agreed to pay a fine of $20mn each, Musk agreed to step down as the Chairman of Tesla within 45 days and agreed that he cannot be appointed as its chairman for three years thereafter. The SEC let him continue as CEO, subject to appointment of an outsider as its chairman, the appointment of two independent directors to keep a check on him and the set up of a Board committee to set up controls over his unpredictable communications, that severely hurt shareholder interest. This amicable settlement avoided a lengthy legal battle which would have ensued, had SEC thrown out Musk as the CEO of Tesla and was in the best interests of the company. His running of the company as it CEO was critical for the company since he oversees every detail of Tesla’s design and technology and has driven the company to great heights. He, however, got a much-needed slap on the wrist and will now function under Board control.

The Indian regulators need to learn from the Tesla story where due to the immediate action of the SEC, the shareholder interests/wealth was protected and a maverick founder/CEO of the company was restrained and shackled under controls. The hands of the Board of Directors were strengthened and shareholder interests were shielded from his unpredictable behaviour. In India the likes of Chanda Kochhar, Shikha Sharma and Rana Kapoor were found to be indulging in far more serious malpractices viz. window dressing of accounts, which have immensely hurt shareholder interest, but SEBI has been a mute spectator, with no action taken against any of them. SEBI needs to protect shareholder interest, as its prime duty and mandate and must restrain the company directors/promoters from indulging in any acts that harm shareholder interest, as SEC did in the case of Tesla and Elon Musk.

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Sensex rallies over 300 pts, Nifty reclaims 10,800 level

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Sensex; points

Mumbai | BSE benchmark Sensex Friday rallied over 300 points and NSE Nifty reclaimed the 10,800 mark on firm global cues, heavy foreign fund inflow and strengthening rupee.

Extending gains for the third session, the 30-share index was trading 306.16 points, or 0.86 percent, higher at 36,113.44. The index had ended 157.34 points, or 0.44 percent, higher at 35,807.28 in the previous session Thursday.

The broader Nifty too jumped 86.75 points, or 0.80 percent, to 10,866.55. The gains on Dalal Street were led by pharma, auto, realty and financial stocks. Top gainers include HDFC duo, Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank, L&T, ITC, HUL, SBI, TCS and Sun Pharma, rising up to 2 percent. On the other hand, Coal India, NTPC and Hero MotoCorp were the top losers, falling up to 1 percent.

According to Rahul Mishra, AVP (Derivatives), Emkay Global Financial Services, markets have been very volatile through the month; state election, global cues and crude oil price movement have kept the market busy.

However, market has seen good recovery since Nifty hit the month’s low on state election result day. Global cues provided good resistance, he said. The rupee, meanwhile, strengthened against the US dollar, up 30 paise at 70.05 a dollar from its previous close. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 1.63 percent at USD 53.59 per barrel.

On a net basis, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) bought shares worth Rs 1,731.91 crore Wednesday, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) were net sellers to the tune of Rs 663.00 crore, provisional data available with BSE showed. Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.47 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.12 per cent, Kospi gained 0.66 per cent and Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.15 per cent in early trade.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index rose 260.37 points, or 1.14 percent, to 23,138.82 in its previous session Thursday.

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Sensex, Nifty choppy amid weak global cues

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Sensex; points

Mumbai | The benchmark BSE Sensex opened on a volatile note early Monday on short-covering by investors amid weakness in Asian markets.

Buying activity in pharma, technology, banking auto and FMCG stocks, influenced market sentiment. The benchmark BSE Sensex was trading 28.05 points, 0.08 percent, lower at 35,714.02, after swinging over 200 points between highs and lows of 35,910.67 and 35,675.02, respectively.

The gauge had plunged 572.04 points on Friday. NSE Nifty was trading lower 25.25 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 10,728.75. Top losers were Hero MotoCorp, Vedanta, Bajaj Auto, Bajaj Finance, Asian Paint and HDFC Bank fell up to 3 per cent.

On the other hand, major gainers were Sun Pharma, Infosys, TCS, SBI, ITC, ICICI Bank, Tata Motors, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Bank, Axis Bank, Maruti Suzuki, L&T, Bharti Airtel, M&M and Coal India, rising up to 2.12 per cent.

According to experts, global equities were choppy as a partial US government shutdown that entered was set to stretch through Christmas, after Congress adjourned for the weekend with no deal in sight to end an impasse over funding for President Donald Trump’s wall on the US-Mexico border.

Also, investors are nervous after reports emerged that Trump privately asked cabinet members if he had the authority to fire Fed Chair Jerome Powell after interest rates were increased and the stock market tanked.

Meanwhile, on a net basis, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) bought shares worth Rs 134.14 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) sold shares worth Rs 488.55 crore Friday, provisional data showed. Asian markets were trading lower following Friday’s losses on the Wall Street.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1.29 percent. Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.49 per cent in early trade. Korea’s Kospi fell 0.38 per cent and Taiwan index slipped 0.20 percent. Japan’s markets are closed Monday. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 1.81 per cent lower Friday.

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Rupee slips 37 paise to 70.07 against US dollar in early trade

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Mumbai | The rupee fell by 37 paise to 70.07 against the US dollar in early trade Friday amid strengthening of the US dollar against some currencies overseas and foreign fund outflows.

Forex traders said besides increased demand of the US currency from importers, the dollar’s strength against some currencies overseas weighed on the rupee. The rupee opened lower at 69.93 against the dollar and dropped further to quote at 70.07, 37 paise down over its previous close.

On Thursday the domestic currency appreciated by 69 paise to close at 69.70 against the US dollar. Traders said a lower opening in domestic equity market, rising crude prices and foreign fund outflows put additional pressure on the local unit.

Globally, Brent crude, the international benchmark, was trading 1.27 per cent higher at USD 55.04 per barrel. Foreign funds pulled out Rs 386.44 crore from the capital markets on a net basis, while domestic institutional investors bought shares worth Rs 87.96 crore Thursday, provisional data showed.

The 30-share index fell 31.70 points, or 0.09 per cent, to trade at 36,399.97. In similar movement, the NSE Nifty was trading 12 points, or 0.11 per cent, lower at 10,939.70.

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