SEPTEMBER 19, 2021
Talk about having a fortune, but not being able to enjoy it. That is the predicament a small-time investor from Kerala’s Kochi is going through.
Babu George Valavi should be worth at least Rs 1448 crores, thanks to an investment he had made in 1978.
But today the 74-year-old is struggling to prove that he and his family are the rightful owners of the shares.
It all began in 1978 when Valavi and four relatives bought 3,500 shares of Mewar Oil and General Mills Ltd, an unlisted company based in Udaipur.
Valavi who was a distributor of the company in the 70s and 80s bought the 3,500 shares, which was equal to 2.8% stakes in the company out of friendship with its founder-chairman PP Singhal.
Since it was an unlisted company and was not paying any dividends, the family gradually forgot about the investment.
But in 2015, while going through his old documents, Valavi stumbled upon the original share document and tried to know about its status.
He found that Mewar Oil and General Mills Ltd had changed its name to PI Industries, which was a listed company and was doing very well, financially.
So Valavi tried to get his shares into a Demat account and approached an agency.
However, the agency asked the family to contact the company directly.
When they did, the Valavi family was in for the shock of their lives – they were told that they are no longer stakeholders and that their shares were sold to others in 1989.
The family alleged that PI Industries illegally sold the shares to others using duplicate shares, which can only be made available to the original shareholder through a complicated legal process.
Smelling trouble, in 2016, PI Industries invited Valavi to Delhi for a negotiation, which he declined.
The company then sent two top executives to meet the family in Kerala and verify the original documents.
Though they acknowledged that the documents were genuine, the company did not do any follow-through.
Valavi told local media that based on the original stakes they owned he and his family, should now have 42.8 lakhs shares in PI Industries, which as per current market values should be worth Rs 1448 crore.
The 74-year-old believes that the 13 people who bought the shares in 1989 were insiders. According to him, the then company secretary GC Jain was behind the transfer and some of those who bought the shares could be his close relatives.
Valavi who also took the matter to SEBI says the company is dragging its foot, and not providing the relevant documents sought by the regulator.