ICICI Venture Working With Premji to Revive Subhiksha

ICICI Venture, the Indian buyout firm that partly owns Subhiksha Trading Services Ltd., said it’s working with billionaire Azim Premji to revive the retailer.

ICICI Venture’s nominees quit the board of the retailer after the management failed to cooperate, Renuka Ramnath, managing director of ICICI Venture, said in Mumbai today. “Nobody is willing to take responsibility for past liabilities,” she said.

Subhiksha said Jan. 30 its business was at a “near standstill” and it needs 3 billion rupees ($60 million) to resume operations. The Chennai-based retailer, founded in 1997, ran out of cash in October after relying on a “high level” of debt, according to the company. Subhiksha is seeking the rescheduling of 7.5 billion rupees of loans.

ICICI Venture, which holds a 23 percent stake in Subhiksha, said it doesn’t have Subhiksha’s financial accounts after March 2007, Ramnath said. ICICI Venture also has limited power to revive Subhiksha, she said.

Premji, chairman of India’s India’s third-largest software developer Wipro Ltd., owns a stake in the retail chain through Premji Invest.

Subhiksha said on Feb. 16 that ICICI Venture has the right to appoint the majority of directors on Subhiksha’s board and control all aspects of the functioning of the company, besides hiring senior managers.

To contact the reporters on this story: M.C. Govardhana Rangan in Mumbai at grangan@bloomberg.net; Saikat Chatterjee in New Delhi at schatterjee4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net; Frank Longid at flongid@bloomberg.net.

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