Mumbai: It’s going to be a nail-biting Monday for Leo Puri, when the Bombay high court decides whether he should be given one-year extension as managing director (MD) of UTI Asset Management Co. Puri’s five-year term as UTI AMC MD ends on the same day.

A division bench of Justices Ranjit V. More and Anuja Prabhudesai on Thursday said it will hear the matter on Monday, following US-based asset manager T. Rowe Price’s (TRP) writ petition seeking his extension.

T. Rowe Price says removing Puri will have an adverse impact on the fund house which is currently preparing for its maiden public offering.

“We want trustees to extend the term of the current managing director for the smooth functioning of the affairs of the company. Last time, it took the company around 30 months to find a new managing director," argued Iqbal Chagla, appearing for T. Rowe Price.

“There is urgency in the matter because the term is coming to an end on August 13."

He suggested the judges order an extension of 12 months “or such other period as this court may deem fit" to help with the orderly divestment of UTI AMC.

The counsel also argued that T. Rowe Price wants the court’s intervention to instruct Sebi and the Union finance ministry to fulfil their supervisory responsibilities by directing the other UTI AMC shareholders and their nominee directors to comply with regulations.

T. Rowe Price, which has a 26% stake in the country’s oldest asset management company UTI AMC, is at loggerheads with other shareholders including LIC and three public sector banks State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Punjab National Bank, who are not in favour of granting an extension to Puri, even though a successor has not yet been finalized.

Munaf Virjee, founding partner of law firm ABH Law LLP, who is representing T. Rowe Price in the dispute, declined to comment on the development since the matter is subjudice.

UTI Mutual Fund is India’s sixth largest mutual fund after ICICI Prudential, HDFC Mutual Fund, Aditya Birla Sun Life MF, Reliance Mutual Fund and SBI Mutual Fund.

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