Reliance’s Market Heft Becoming Liability for Indian Stock Funds

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The scorching rally inReliance Industries Ltd.’s shares is becoming a problem for India’s equity mutual funds.

The stock has more than doubled from a March low, thanks to Chairman Mukesh Ambani’sfundraising blitz. The run up has increased the company’s weighting in the S&P BSE Sensex to 17.4%, from 11% at the end of 2019.

Money managers have hit a regulatory wall because of the surge. They can’t buy more of India’s most valuable company as actively-run plans aren’t allowed to own more than 10% of a single stock. This means funds can’t add rising stocks, such as Reliance, and therefore risk trailing the market, said Nilesh Shah, managing director of Kotak Asset Management Co.

“Clients don’t understand this technicality so it’s hard to explain to them why a particular fund is under-performing,” said Shah, who is also chairman of the Association of Mutual Funds in India. “Funds have no option but to book profits in such cases to comply. We have asked Sebi to allow us to align our holdings with changes in the stock’s weighting.”

Listless performance has been one of the reasons behind the waning popularity of equity funds in recent months, with many individuals taking direct bets on a market that has erased a bulk of the virus-induced losses. Large-cap funds have risen 8% on average over the past six months, data on Morningstar Investment Adviser’swebsite show. The Sensex is up 9% in the same period.

READ: India Stock Funds See Second Month of Outflow Amid Economic Woes

Reliance’s shares rose 12% to a record last week, lifting the company’s market value past the $200 billion mark, aspeople familiar said Amazon.com Inc. and KKR & Co. are in talks to buy stakes in its retail business.

But money managers trimmed their combined holdings in Reliance by 5 million shares worth 10.3 billion rupees in August, making it the most sold stock by value, Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd. said in a note Friday.

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