Sun TV shares fall to 52-week low

Sun TV shares fall to 52-week low

Chennai: Sun TV Network Ltd shares continued to take a pounding on Thursday, crashing to a 52-week low over speculation that chairman and managing director Kalanithi Maran may be questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) over issues linked to brother Dayanidhi Maran’s decisions during his tenure as telecom minister.

The stock recovered to end 7.02% down at 242.90 from a low of 237.75 on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Thursday, following a slide of 4.7% on the day before. The benchmark Sensex rose 1.53% to 16,698.07 points on Thursday.

A company spokesperson didn’t respond to requests for comment on the reasons for the slump in the stock price.

Analysts tracking media stocks, and particularly Sun TV, said the stock could slump further if Dayanidhi Maran is charge-sheeted by CBI. They did not want to be named.

Another Mumbai-based analyst said the reason for Thursday’s slump was talk that Kalanithi Maran may also be questioned by CBI over allegations that his brother had pressured entrepreneur C. Sivasankaran to sell his stake in mobile service provider Aircel to the Maxis group of Malaysia in 2005. Maxis had then made an investment of 600 crore through Astro in Sun Direct, the direct-to-home (DTH) arm of Sun TV as a quid pro quo, according to the allegation.

The preliminary investigation against Dayanidhi Maran, who resigned as textile minister over the allegations in corruption charges over the years, is complete and the first information report (FIR) will be filed shortly, CBI told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Sun has been hit by a series of reverses over the past few months ever since the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) won state elections in May and J. Jayalalithaa took over as chief minister, defeating M. Karunanidhi’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The Marans are Karunanidhi’s grandnephews and are closely associated with him and the party.

The moves against Sun include the revival of state-run Arasu Cable and the imposition of levies on DTH services. Besides this, CBI on Monday said it has evidence against Dayanidhi Maran.

Kalanithi Maran, who is also chairman of SpiceJet Ltd, the country’s second largest low-cost air carrier, did not attend the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday as he was unwell. He owns 43% of SpiceJet through Kal Airways.

Last week, after the Tamil Nadu legislature announced the move to impose entertainment tax on the Indian Premier League and DTH services, Sun shares had a temporary intraday setback, touching 254.90, a 52-week low, before recovering to close at 280.45.

In June, Sun had blamed sharp fluctuations in its share price on “baseless allegations and rumours linking the company with certain happenings relating to the 2G (second-generation telecom spectrum) scam".

The company rejected any links to the alleged wrongdoing involved in decisions relating to telecom, besides saying that Dayanidhi Maran had no role in management.

“We wish to clarify that Dayanidhi Maran does not own any shares either in Sun TV Network Ltd or in Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd. We also wish to state that Sun TV Network Ltd does not have shareholding in Sun Direct TV or vice versa," it said at the time. “We reiterate that business continues as usual and will not be hampered."