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Indians-founded DIFC firm in $6.7b acquisition bid controversy

|AN ARABIAN POST SPECIAL| A little or lesser known DIFC company floated by a few Indians is caught up in a controversy involving a big ticket acquisition worth billions of dollars. The acquisition bidder claims that the bid for a major gaming company was made on the basis of funding commitment by the DIFC company, which however denies any connection with the bid.

The controversy relates to the proposed $6.7 billion takeover bid by Amaya Inc. founder David Baazov for the Canada-based owner of online gaming company Pokerstar with the purported support of Dubai company  KBC Aldini Capital Ltd.

Baazov was quoted by Bloomberg as saying in a statement that he had been advised by KBC Aldini Capital to the effect that it has not committed any financing for the deal.  Baazov said he plans to find replacement funds for the acquisition.

KBC was one of four investors named in the bid offer made in the middle of November, apparently providing a combined $3.65 billion in equity financing. The others were Hong Kong-based Head and Shoulders Global Investment Fund and Goldenway Capital SPC, along with Ferdyne Advisory Inc., which is registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Bloomberg quoted KBC chief executive Mangilal Kalani Lal as saying on phone that  he was surprised when he saw his company’s name in regulatory filings backing the bid. He said his firm has had no interaction with Baazov and has filed a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and regulators in Canada. KBC Aldini is a boutique investment bank that has raised $2 billion for past deals. he said.

“Somebody has misused our name,” Lal said. “I am totally confused. I’m totally lost,” he was quoted as saying.

It is not the first time that KBC Aldini is caught up in controversies.  The company website already has a caution notice warning clients of suspected phishing scam seeking to target clients through an unauthorised web domain named Kbcaldini.Com.

The announcement cautions that  such sites are designed to mimic authentic bank websites so as to lure the visitor in thinking that he/she is actually logged on to the firm genuine site. It advises clients to be vigilant against such scams that seek to lure them into surrendering such information to a third party and should be careful not to follow links directly from emails but to type the url (http://www.kbc-aldini.com)directly on their web browser when they wish to visit the KBC Aldini Capital Limited website.

Client must confirm the firm contact details on DFSA website before establishing any relationship with the firm, it further said.

KBC Aldini has been floated by Indian businessmen Mangilal Kalani, Amardeep Sharma, Syed Kashif Hussaini and Hariharan Ramachandran.  The company website states that Kalani has over 20 years experience with emerging markets financial services.  It describes him to be an expert in international trade finance, having built up a global network of investors and clients. He claims to have raised $400 million for the Indian Sovereign Bond of 2000.

Similarly, Amardeep Singh is described as a seasoned investment bank professional with vast experience working in India, Middle East, Singapore and Indonesia.

The company’s board of directors has seen frequent changes, with  Sharad Nair leaving in January 2011, Baumslag Daniel, going out in September 2011,  Ganesh Subramaniam Kavassery leaving in October 2012, Sreehari Narayana Iyer, who served until September 2013, Akash Anand leaving in the beginning of 2016.