Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Sep 16, 2004
Corporate - Corporate Disputes
Confusion over chairing Birla Corp AGM
Kolkata , Sept. 15
TODAY'S Birla Corporation annual general meeting started with an enormous amount of confusion over who would chair the meeting. Not surprisingly, this led to a mood of confrontation among the shareholders.
The meeting started off with Mr Rajendra Singh Lodha stating that he had been "traditionally" chairing the AGM for the last few years but that for the present occasion he would ask Dr Dharmendra Bhandari, the UTI-nominated Director on the board, to take charge of the meeting..
Although Dr Bhandari's appointment was passed unanimously by a show of hands , he said he was just a "provisional Chairman" and placed a resolution stating that Mr Lodha be appointed the Chairman of the AGM.
A large section of shareholders immediately protested , led byMr S.K. Parik, Director and Secretary of Kesoram Industries Ltd, the flagship company of the BK Birla Group.
Mr Parik, however, clarified that he was present at the meeting in the capacity of a minor shareholder.
While placing the resolution, Dr Bhandari suggested that a poll be conducted on the matter. A large number of shareholders continued their protest for more than two hours as they felt that the move violated the order passed by the Company Law Board (CLB) on Tuesday.
Dr Bhandari said a clarification had been issued by the CLB on Wednesday morning where it was stated that Mr Lodha had been barred from chairing the meeting when it took up resolutions regarding his re-appointment and that of Mr Pracheta Mazumdar and Mr Vikram Swarup.
He said it was clear from this that Mr Lodha could chair the rest of the meeting.
On completion of the poll on whether Mr Lodha could chair the meeting, which was approved by 99.99 per cent of the shareholders present, Mr Mittal also read out the two orders passed by the CLB.
Mr Parik alleged that the polling was not conducted properly as the ballots had not been given to every shareholder and that they were not numbered properly. The polling process continued for more than two hours as the agitated shareholders kept on protesting on one issue or the other. Scuffles broke out among the shareholders. The large police contingent, which was posted outside the meeting venue, entered the hall and tried to restore normality.
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