Religare Enterprises Ltd (REL) on Monday refuted the allegations levelled against its Chairman Rashmi Saluja with regard to excessive remuneration, terming those as “completely false and erroneous”.
In a strongly worded response, the Board expressed its shock and disappointment at the allegations, emphasising that they are not isolated to Dr Rashmi but are a targeted attack on the entire Management and Board.
The statement comes within days of proxy advisory firm InGovern Research alleging that Saluja was paid excessive remuneration.
Religare said the performance-linked remuneration was paid to Saluja after approval of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee (NRC), Board, and the shareholders of REL.
“The allegation that the executive chairperson draws a remuneration of more than `150 crore per annum is completely false and erroneous. As per the annual report for FY 22-23 of REL, the remuneration for the Executive Chairperson was `8.12 crore. Even after including the perquisites value of the ESOPs, it reached a figure of `42.06 crore,” Religare said in a statement.
It further said that Saluja was reappointed as the Executive Chairperson in February 2023 for a second term for a five-year period through a resolution by the Board and approval of shareholders.
This period has witnessed a historic revival, with Religare completing a one-time settlement of RFL (Religare Finvest Limited) through organic collections and payments exceeding `9000 crores to the country’s banking system.
Religare further said that Saluja was instrumental in creating value for all the shareholders of REL. The share price of REL, which saw a low of `17 in 2020, rose to a high of `280 in September 2023.
“The ESOP perquisite value is also reflective of this significant value creation a part of which was also shared by her as a shareholder/employee of the company,” Religare added.
Currently, Religare management is engaged in a tussle with the Burman family, promoters of FMCG major Dabur India.
Burman family which has hiked its stake in Religare through creeping acquisition to around 26 per cent, is now proposing to make an open offer for acquiring another 25 per cent stake in the financial services company.
As per market regulator Sebi rules, it is mandatory for a company to make an open offer of 26 per cent to all shareholders.
Religare also denied that the Burman family, at a meeting on September 20, had informed Saluja of a proposed open offer.
The Burman family, it may be mentioned, had announced an open offer to buy additional share of REL at `235 apiece, amounting to a total consideration of up to `2,115 crore in cash.
Religare had objected to the open offer price and sought an independent valuation report.
On allegations that Saluja had liquidated the ESOPs after meeting a representative of the Burman family on September 20, the Religare statement said, “The process of liquidation of ESOPs through financing and sale was set in motion several days before the said meeting.”
The actual sale, it added, happened on September 21 and 22 at the prevalent market price and the share sale proceeds were utilised to further invest in Religare group entity.