Saturday, 20 September 2014
Last updated 14 hours ago
Aug 2 2012 | 11:12am ET
The Children's Investment Fund is ramping up its battle with India over what it calls the government's interference with a state-owned coal company.
The British activist hedge fund filed suit against the Indian government in New Delhi yesterday, accusing it of political interference with Coal India's management. The move follows TCI's formal accusation in March that the government's involvement in Coal India violates treaties between India and the U.K. and Cyprus.
TCI's lawsuit comes amidst a major power outage across northern India, which left hundreds of millions of people without electricity. In the wake of that crisis, Coal India's board acceded to government demands that it guarantee supplies for new power projects.
The hedge fund also objects to a government order to keep coal prices low for power producers and a presidential decree ordering the company to boost coal supplies.
"The situation is now urgent, and we believe there is a direct relationship between the recent power cuts and way in which the government treats Coal India," TCI partner Oscar Veldhuijzen told the Financial Times.
While Veldhuijzen said the current lawsuit has little chance of succeeding in changing the Indian government's behavior, he said TCI was "suing the government to get confirmation by the court that there has been legal interference." Such a ruling would be only the beginning of the litigation, however.
"The next step is to sue the directors of Coal India directly for abuse of minority shareholder rights, by accepting directions from the government," he said.
TCI owns 2% of Coal India; the Indian government owns 90%.
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