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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Gitanjali Gems 5% dividend in 2016-will history repeat itself of shareholders voting it down?

In 2013, Gitanjali Gems had declared dividend, only for its promoters (who also constitute the management) to vote against it at the shareholder's meeting. This was probably due to opposition from the banks, who had pending dues, and due to general industry downturn then. Now, perhaps emboldened by the slight deleveraging in the year ended Mar 31,2016, the company has proposed a dividend of 0.5 INR(which translates to a nearly 2% dividend yield). This is despite the following liabilities:

  • Income tax and other statutory dues of 20.55Crores and 6.55 crores respectively-the company claims a 'liquidity issue' here
  • Overdrawn working capital loans of Rs 106crores-here the company needs to either provide additional securities, or repay the overdrawn amount. It has jumped the gun and claimed that its offer of additional security is under evaluation
  • Cash Deposit NOT created for debunture reserve maturing next year(as mandated under the companies Act 2013)
  • Overdue loans of 2.4Crores to LIC, and 18.5crs to IDBI-the company has offered to pay on account Rs 4.5crores apparently owed by LIC to the promoter

While there is no statutory prohibition against this that I know of, it is certainly unusual for a company to prioritize paying shareholders first over its employees, lenders and tax authorities-all of whom have more secure claims at bankruptcy. But then, rare are the promoters who accept a token remuneration when their company is making losses-instead they seek shareholder and government approval to keep paying high amounts despite this.

The stock price jumped 10% on the news but it seems only a matter of time that creditors will protest and have the dividend revoked.