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Vikram Akula’s return to SKS Microfin all but over

Vikram Akula’s desire to return to the board of SKS Microfinance, the only listed micro-lender in the country, appears to be over. SKS Trust, the sole trustee of the five mutual benefit trusts that collectively own 12.5 per cent stake in the microfinance company, will not persist with its request to induct Akula back on the micro-lender’s board.

“The trust wanted to nominate Vikram on SKS’ board. A request was made, which was declined. The trust has accepted that decision and does not plan to persist with the request further,” a person familiar with the development told Business Standard.

Akula was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this month, SKS had informed stock exchanges that following request from a select set of promoters, which included Akula and the five mutual benefit trusts, it has decided to “de-promoterise” and exclude them from its list of promoters.

SKS Trust maintained that since it did had no role in the decision making process of the micro-lender, it wanted to exclude itself from the promoters’ group.

“Despite being the largest shareholder, we do not have any influence on the decision making process. Hence, we decided to exclude ourselves from the promoters’ list. This move will help the trust to focus on its core activities of furthering financial inclusion while avoiding the onerous responsibilities of complying with various regulatory guidelines as a promoter,” Biksham Gujja, chairperson of SKS Trust, said.

Akula founded SKS Microfinance as a non-government organisation (NGO) in 1997. But he had to step down as its chairperson in 2011. It is widely believed that a conflict between Akula and other board members over the running of the company led to his exit.

In September, 2013, SKS Trust had asked the micro-lender to induct Akula back on the board. But the microfinance company has maintained that under its articles of association, no shareholder has any right to nominate a director. It has also clarified that Akula do not enjoy any special rights in the company.

“Vikram Akula does not have any special rights in the company through formal or informal arrangements except such rights that are available to every public shareholder of the company. Furthermore, none of the directors or key managerial personnel of the company have been appointed pursuant to any formal or informal arrangement (with) Dr Vikram Akula,” SKS Microfinance had said in the notice to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) earlier this month.

Akula had sold almost his entire stake in the company and held only 10 shares at the end of March, 2014.

With SKS Trust not planning to insist on his induction, Akula’s aspiration of regaining a board seat in SKS is almost over.

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