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estate major DLF has decided to allocate Rs.1, 100 crore to buy back 2.2 crore shares (1.2% stake) at Rs.600 per scrip. The market responded negatively to the development with the scrip, which had risen to Rs.475 on BSE on Thursday, crumbling to end the day at Rs.458. "Market is more mature now than it was two years ago and is unlikely to be influenced by such buyback moves. When DLF says it will buy back shares at a price "up to" Rs.600, it doesn't have any impact. DLF is not bound to buy at Rs.600, nor is it bound to buy all 2.2 crore equity shares. So market will see the buyback as nothing more than a gimmick," says Karvy Stockbroking vice president Ambareesh Baliga. DLF's free float comprises a little over 20 crore shares, or 11.84% of total equity base. "This (buyback) decision would be value accretive for the shareholders. While we respect the market, we believe that our current share prices do not reflect the intrinsic strength and future growth potential of DLF," company vice-chairman Rajiv Singh said in press statement. The maximum price of acquisition of Rs.600 is at a 71% premium to the scrip's lifetime low of Rs.350. DLF had announced on July 2 that it was considering a buyback after the company's shares had lost 71% of its peak value. "The maximum price fixed by DLF is not great. Investors should see this as an opportunity to exit. There is no trading history of the stock and so no one really knows where the bottom is," says Shailesh Kanani, a real estate analyst with Angel Broking. Buybacks in recent times in Indian markets haven't had the desired impact of keeping prices strong. Shares in most cases are trading at a deep discount to the maximum buyback price announced by the companies. Anil Ambanicontrolled Reliance Infrastructure (REL) closed at Rs.855 on Thursday on BSE, as against a maximum buyback price of Rs.1, 600, while SRF closed at Rs.124 compared to the buyback price of Rs.160. Similarly, Great Offshore is trading at 465, against the maximum buyback price of Rs.750 and Goldiam is trading at over 100% discount to its maximum buyback price of Rs.85. DLF said it will fund the buyback programme through internal accruals. Analysts feel DLF could have put this money to better use by deploying it in execution of real estate projects. They feel worst is yet to come for realty firms. "Our estimate is that sales volume came down by 30-40% last year. Since there is a lag of around 12 months between the sales and revenue recognition, we will see the actual impact on revenue and earnings in the second half of this year," says Mr. Kanani. Moreover, sales have stagnated this year, declining up to 80% in most markets. This will further damage earnings prospect for realty firms next year, when it would start reflecting in the books. DLF has denied that it was facing cash crunch, but analysts feel all real estate developers will feel the liquidity crunch in the immediate future because of sluggish sales. "DLF is banking on hopes that DLF Assets (DAL) will be able to raise funds," says Mr. Kanani. DAL is a DLF promoter group company, which has in the past bought several IT and office properties from DLF and helped the latter book huge profits. But in the March quarter, DLF had to reverse the sale of one office property to DAL as the latter failed to pay DLF following its failure to raise funds in a dampened market. Courtesy: - ET dtd: - July 11, 2008