Templeton moves SC against HC order on investor nod for scheme closure

Mutual Fund (MF) is moving the (SC) against the Karnataka High Court order that stated that unitholders’ consent is a must before closure of any mutual fund scheme.

“Post the judgement of the High Court of Karnataka, we considered all possible options over the last few weeks to start returning money to unit holders in the shortest possible time in an orderly manner. This included the option of seeking unitholder consent according to the judgment of the Hon’ble High Court. However, after detailed deliberations, we have determined that it will be necessary to seek judicial intervention from the to ensure an appropriate implementation of the law in the best interest of unitholders,” Asset Management (India) president Sanjay Sapre told investors in a note on Monday.

In its October 24 judgement, the court stated that the investors would be entitled to receive the money from cash-rich schemes if the decision of the trustees to wind up the schemes is held to be valid. The investors will get the money only after sale of assets of the schemes, after making payment to the creditors and making a provision for expenses of liquidation. The High Court had, however, stayed the operation of its judgment for six weeks.

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In May 2020, the trustees had sought a vote by unitholders under section 41(1) of the Sebi Mutual Fund Regulations, to permit the Trustee (or Deloitte) to undertake an orderly sale of the debt securities held in the funds, and return money to unitholders. However, the process could not be completed.

Though the schemes could not actively monetise the portfolio, approximately Rs 5,900 crore is available for distribution in four out of these six schemes.

“This shows that the securities held in the funds can be liquidated at a fair value, if the schemes are allowed to undertake an orderly process of liquidation. This is definitely preferable to a distress sale of securities (at steep discounts) that would occur if a rush of redemptions forces an emergency liquidation of the securities at prices far below their realizable value under normal market conditions,” Sapre said.

The case against the asset manager was filed by some unitholders of the six debt schemes that were shut in April.

In April, decided to wind up six of its debt schemes oriented towards high-yield investments with total assets under management of over Rs 25,000 crore. It cited continued redemption pressure and lack of liquidity in the debt market, amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, for the closure.

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