Axis top brass sold Esops before share sale decision

Tags: News
Top officials of Axis Bank sold shares worth Rs 8.5 crore in November-December 2013 as the government geared up to sell its stake held through the specified undertaking of UTI (SUUTI).

BSE data showed a sharp rise in share offloading by bank employees in the runup to the government decision compared with any earlier period. Talks of the government selling its holding in Axis Bank were doing the rounds for some time.

On Monday, the Manmohan Singh cabinet cleared the proposal to sell half its 20.72 per cent holding in the private bank in a bid to bridge the gap in fiscal deficit. The government holds the shares through SUUTI. Three investment bankers have already been hired and the share sale is likely to take place sometime in February.

Ten top Axis Bank officials including its MD and CEO Shikha Sharma sold their personal holdings in the bank during November-December. Sharma offloaded 15,000 shares for Rs 1.95 crore.

When queried about the reason behind so many top officials selling shares during the two months, the bank’s official spo-kesperson said, “The transactions referred to are sale of Esops undertaken by individuals in the usual course.”

When queried about the reason behind so many top officials selling shares during the two months, the bank’s official spokesperson said, “The transactions referred to are sale of Esops undertaken by individuals in the usual course. Under the bank’s ‘code of conduct for prevention of insider trading’, relevant disclosures have been made to the concerned exchanges as required.”

Insider trading data since July 2013, showed bank officials sold their holdings more frequently during November-December. The transactions preceded an announcement by the bank that the trading window will be closed for dealing in securities of Axis Bank from January 1 to January 17 ahead of the third quarter results in pursuant to the code of conduct for prevention of insider trading of the bank for all directors, officials in the grade of senior VP and above in corporate office, all employees of finance and accounts departments and all employees in the office of the CS.

The insider trading data also showed public sector insurance behemoth Life Insurance Corporation raised its stake in the bank from 9.33 per cent to 10.44 per cent, by buying additional shares worth Rs 625 crore between September 1, 2013 and January 21. Axis Bank shares were volatile all through the December quarter, touching a low of Rs 764 on September 4, 2013 and gaining gradually thereafter to touch a high of Rs 1,324 at December end. On Wednesday, the stock closed at Rs 1,186.85 on BSE.

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