Sebi’s list of 331 “shell" companies isn’t just a list of penny stocks but had some well-known names too. There are at least 12 firms that have either prominent investors as stakeholders and/or significant mutual fund ownership.

For instance, Fidelity Securities had a 4.1% holding in real estate firm Parsvnath Developers, while Axis Bank Ltd owned 1.7% in Pincon Spirit as on 30 June, according to BSE data. UTI Mutual Fund, Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund, DSP BlackRock Mutual Fund, Edelweiss Mutual Fund, HDFC Mutual Fund, IDFC Mutual Fund, Reliance Mutual Fund, UTI Mutual Fund together have over 11% holding in J Kumar Infraprojects, according to data by mutual fund research house, Value Research. Similarly, billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala holds 1.01% in Prakash Industries and Kalpraj Dharamshi owns 1.6% in SQS India BFSI Ltd.

A fund manager who has exposure to the suspected shell firms said, “This is some sort of an oversight. These are essentially construction companies, they have a holding company and below them are projects, so they are not shell companies but genuine ones. In the short term, we will value it on last traded price and for lack of liquidity we would discount it. We will examine it in medium term on how soon the company resolves the issue."

Many companies are crying foul stating that they are “shocked" at the market regulator’s mandate and are financially healthy firms.

■ Parsvnath Developers Ltd: “It is public knowledge that our company is one of the largest real estate development companies in northern India and is involved in development and construction of real estate projects across several verticals in 41 cities and across 15 states in India. It therefore comes as a shock that we are mentioned in the list of shell companies," Parsvnath Developers said in a statement to the BSE.

■ Prakash Industries Ltd: “We are not a shell company and by any stretch of imagination can be termed as such and we are healthy profit making company having an annual turnover of Rs2,400 crore and profit of Rs78 crore during financial year 2016-17. We also have over 52,000 shareholders and our scrip is actively traded in NSE and BSE current average daily volume is over million shares," Prakash Industries said in a statement to the BSE.

■ Pincon Spirit Ltd: “We are surprised at being included in the list. Pincon has been a dividend paying company and we do not have any complaints pending pertaining to dividend payments or investor complaints. We are having six of our productions units and for liquor verticals we are paying government excise duties ranging in crores of rupees for running the business," Pincon Spirit said in a statement to the BSE.

■ J Kumar Infraprojects Ltd: “We are not a shell company and suspicion is uncalled for. We are seeking legal advice in the matter and we are approaching the regulator i.e., Sebi, requesting it to recall its directions qua us," J Kumar Infra said in a statement to the BSE.

■ SQS India BFSI: “Our shareholders would be most impacted with this action and we are shocked by this development," SQS india BFSI said in a statement to the BSE.

(Note: The graphic accompanying in this story has been removed due to inaccuracies.)

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