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NSE sells over 2 per cent stake in Multi Commodity Exchange

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New Delhi:

The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has sold an over 2 per cent stake in Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) in small tranches over past few weeks, even as speculations are rife about a potential buyout of the country's largest commodity bourse by some rival entity or private investors.

As per MCX's latest shareholding disclosure, top stock exchange NSE held 12.5 lakh shares, or a 2.45 per cent stake, in the commodity exchange as on June 30, 2012.

Out of this, the NSE is believed to have sold more than 12 lakh shares and is left with only a few thousand shares, as it did not see any further value proposition in this long-held investment, sources said.

While the details of the sale, which was carried out in small tranches through open market, could not be ascertained, these shares would be worth over Rs 30 crore at current price.

The buyers' identity also could not be ascertained.

For quite some time, NSE has been looking to sell the MCX shares held by it for many years. NSE was allotted 10 lakh MCX shares in May 2005, but the quantum of this holding has since changed many times due to change in MCX's share capital.

Back in 2009, the NSE had written to MCX about its intention to sell its 1 per cent stake in MCX, as it did not see any strategic value in this investment.

MCX and its promoter FTIL had replied to NSE at that time they would facilitate the stake sale at "a right opportune time". MCX was not a listed company at that time.

At that time, FTIL said it also held a 1 per cent stake in NSE and it would continue to hold that. NSE and MCX group had got those shares at 'token stakes' in each other.

Initially, NSE and MCX did not compete directly with each other, as they were in different segments of stocks and commodities trading, respectively. However, they now compete with each other in various segments, including in equities and currency derivatives segments, while NSE-promoted NCDEX competes with MCX in commodity futures trading.

Jignesh Shah-led Financial Technologies (India) Ltd holds a 26 per cent stake in MCX, while stakes of other major investors are as follows: Fidelity Funds- 5 per cent; Passport Capital- 4.9 per cent; Aginyx Enterprises- 4.79 per cent; NYSE Euronext- 4.73 per cent; IFCI- 4.79 per cent, and Nabard- 3.06 per cent.

MCX shares have seen strong market interest in the recent days, especially since a major payment crisis involving about Rs 5,500 crore broke out at a group entity, National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL), late last month.     

While there are no official words, the market is rife with speculations that MCX might eventually see a new investor acquiring majority control and the names doing the round include those of at least rival commodity exchanges and some private equity players, among others.

This has helped MCX shares soar sharply from a 52-week low of Rs 238.30 on August 19 to Rs 306.90 currently. The shares rose by 5 per cent at the BSE on Monday.

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