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Saturday, Dec 30, 2006

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FMC freeze stalls NMCE stake dilution

Pratim Ranjan Bose

In talks with R-ADAG

Kolkata, Dec 29

A moratorium issued earlier this month by the Forward Markets Commission (FMC) on change in shareholding pattern of commodity exchanges seems to have impacted the National Multi-Commodity Exchange's (NMCE) plan to rope in strategic investors as equity partners, for the time being.

The Ahmedabad-based commodity futures exchange recently drew up a massive expansion plan to extend its terminal network from 800 to 3,000 and extend its reach in terms of both the offerings as well as geographical coverage. According to market sources, as part of its newly adopted growth plan the NMCE management is in active discussion with the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG) to offer it "strategic shareholding".

While ADAG official sources denied any such move, Mr Kailash Gupta, Managing Director of NMCE, told Business Line that as part of its resource mobilisation initiative NMCE was in talks with many national and international strategic investors. He refused to disclose the name of the strategic investors.

Market sources, however, confirmed that the negotiations had reached a reasonably advanced stage and that NMCE was interested in diluting a "significant stake" in favour of R-ADAG.

R-ADAG has already expressed its intention to enter the retail commodity trade in a big way and is exploring means to extend its presence in this sector.

NMCE is reportedly the first de-mutualised multi-commodity exchange to offer futures trading opportunities in the country.

The exchange is promoted by and Neptune Overseas Ltd, Central Warehousing Corporation, National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India, Gujarat Agro-Industries Corporation, Gujarat State Agricultural Marketing Board and National Institute of Agricultural Marketing.

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