Wednesday, February 27, 2008

All that brouhaha about bonus

All that brouhaha about bonus
Prerna Katiyar, TNN

The Reliance Power bonus issue is finally out. The company declared a 3:5 ratio on Sunday giving three extra shares for every five shares held by a shareholder. These shares were issued to only non-promoter shareholders. The record date for the issue is still to be declared by the stock exchange.

What is a bonus issue?

Any company, which has excess reserves that it may have build by retaining part of its profit over the years, may decide to convert some amount into its share capital by issuing bonus shares. This doesn’t change the market value of the company. “It is one of the ways, in which reserves of the company get capitalised,” said PN Vijay Financial Services managing director PN Vijay. In case of Reliance Power, the company is converting its share premium reserves into bonus.

What is bonus ratio?

New shares are issued in the proportion of their holdings. If the bonus ratio is 1:2, for every two shares held by the shareholder, he will get one extra share. This means, if someone was holding 100 shares of a company, he will get 50 free shares making total holding of shares in that company to 150 instead of 100. Rajesh Exports was another company to issue bonus. The ratio declared by the company was 2:1, which means every shareholder got two extra shares for each share held.

Why a bonus issue?

It is one of the ways for companies to capitalise their excess reserves and reward its shareholders. “Rajesh Exports has reserves in excess of Rs 500 crore and so the company decided to pass on the benefit to the shareholders in the form of bonus issue,” said Rajesh Mehta, the chairman of the Bangalore-based jewellery maker Rajesh Exports. Also, a bonus issue is seen as a sign of a company’s good health.

How do shareholders benefit?

The shareholders get the bonus shares for free, thus bringing down the cost of owning the shares and the company’s profit too remain intact. “It’s a win-win situation for both the issuing company and shareholders. While the company doesn’t need to generate free cash and issues the bonus shares from its accumulated reserves, the shareholders get free shares,” said JP Morgan Asset Management India chief executive Krishnamurthy Vijayan.

How does the company benefit?

Corporate actions like dividend payouts and bonus issues are ways of rewarding shareholders. While dividends are paid from profit after tax (PAT), bonus shares are issued from excess reserves the company may have. This means in case of the latter, the company is able to reward the shareholders without touching its profits.

Also, from the company’s point of view, it is more of an accounting entry that moves money from one accounting head to another. “Except for the sentiment among shareholders, there is no change in the company’s valuations after the bonus issue,” said Birla Sunlife Mutual Fund CIO A Bala Balasubramaniam.

Record date & ex-bonus

Record date is the date set by the company for determining the holders entitled to receive bonus shares. For Rajesh Exports, it was February 5, which means that anyone who had shares of the company till this date were entitled for free bonus shares. For Reliance Power, the date is yet to be declared. After record date, shares of the company become ex-bonus.

What about Reliance Power?

Anil Ambani holds 45% stake in Reliance Power and another 45% is held by Reliance Energy. Mr Ambani said he will be transferring his own 2.6% stake in Reliance Power to REL so that REL’s holding in Reliance Power remains intact.

For all those who are still wondering how the cost of acquisition for retail shareholders came to Rs 269, here’s the math: Suppose you were allotted 17 shares, making the total amount you invested to 430*17 or Rs 7,310. After the 3:5 bonus issue, most likely you will get 10 ‘free’ bonus shares, which means you now have 27 shares still keeping the invested amount at Rs 7,310. Now divide 7,310 by the new total number of shares you own (27) and you will get the answer.

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