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JM Financial Jumps on Report Ambani to Buy Unit Stake

JM Financial Ltd., Morgan Stanley’s former partner in India, surged as much as 20 percent in Mumbai trading after the Mint newspaper reported that billionaire Mukesh Ambani may buy a controlling stake in its asset management unit. JM Financial denied the report.

“This is a speculative story. There is no truth in this,” the Mumbai-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. “JM Financial Mutual Fund forms an important part in the JM Financial Group portfolio and we remain focused and committed towards growing this business.”

JM Financial shares rose 20 percent to 38.10 rupees at the close of trade in Mumbai. About 18.4 million shares of JM Financial, or 2.5 percent of its equity, changed hands in block trades, according to data from the Bombay Stock Exchange. The volume of shares traded today was about 60 times the three-month daily average.

The Mint newspaper reported today, citing two officials close to the development it didn’t identify, that negotiations are on for a deal that values JM Financial Asset Management Pvt. at about 8 percent of its assets under management, or 6.85 billion rupees ($147 million). JM Financial managed assets worth 85.69 billion rupees as of April, according data compiled by Bloomberg.

“As a policy we don’t comment on market speculation,” Manoj Warrier, a spokesman for Reliance Industries Ltd., the company controlled by Mukesh Ambani, said today.

Sibling Rivalry

Mukesh Ambani’s younger brother, Anil Ambani, owns the country’s largest money manager, Reliance Capital Asset Management Ltd., which manages 1.1 trillion rupees in stocks and bonds.

India’s mutual funds industry has grown fivefold in as many years, with assets under management swelling to 7.7 trillion rupees in April, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. India’s 1.1 billion people, almost half of whom are under 25 years old, are spending more on electronics, clothes and cars as incomes grow in the world’s second-fastest growing major economy.

The estranged billionaire Ambani brothers, who split the family empire in 2005, earlier this month agreed to compete against each other for the first time, easing a dispute that stalled a power generation project and a telecoms merger.

The world’s richest siblings scrapped all existing non-competition agreements between their business groups, and said they hoped “very soon” to negotiate a deal for supplies of natural gas from India’s largest field.

Under a 2005 agreement that split the Reliance group, Mukesh kept the petrochemicals, oil and gas units and Anil secured the power, financial services, telecommunications, and entertainment units.

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