The Centre on Thursday offloaded about 4.44 crore Wipro shares through block deals. According to BSE data, the Life Insurance Corporation of India bought 3.86 crore shares. The deal was stuck at an average price of ₹258.9. Through the deal, the Centre has mopped up about ₹1,149.5 crore.

According to the latest shareholding pattern (March 2019) available with the exchanges, LIC holds 26.52 crore shares or 4.39 per cent stake in Wipro. It may be recalled that last November, the Union Cabinet had approved the sale of ‘enemy shares’ worth ₹3,000 crore that are in the custody of the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Custodian of Enemy Property of India (CEPI).

The enemy property consists of about 6.5 crore shares which are under the custody of CEPI belonging to 20,323 shareholders in 996 companies. Of these, 588 companies are currently functional and 139 are listed on the stock exchanges. Wipro is one among them.

According to the Enemy Property Act, 1968, ‘enemy property’ refers to any property — both movable and immovable properties such as securities, jewellery, land and buildings — that belonged to a person who migrated from India to an enemy country when a war broke out. After the war with China and Pakistan in 1962 and 1965, the government took over the properties, under the Defence of India Act, from persons who migrated to these countries.

READ | All you wanted to know about sale of ‘enemy shares’

Amendment to Act

In 2017, through an amendment to this Act, vide Section 8A, the CEPI has been empowered for sale of enemy property.

The process for selling these shares was approved by the Alternative Mechanism (AM) under the Chairmanship of the Finance Minister and comprising the Minister of Road Transport and Highways and the Home Minister. The AM was supported by a high-level committee of officers, co-chaired by the Secretary, DIPAM, and Secretary, MHA, that recommends the quantum, price/price-band, principles/mechanisms for sale of shares, etc.

It expects to use the proceeds from the sale for development and social welfare programmes. With the Cabinet rubber-stamping this sale of shares, the disposal of other properties such as land and building could also be in the offing.

Shares of Wipro on Thursday tumbled to a low of ₹254.9 in early trade but recovered to close at ₹258.95 against the previous day’s close of ₹261.50.