PVR Says Ronnie Screwvala’s Statements Led To Stock Price Manipulation
Multiplex chain operator PVR Ltd. on Friday complained to the Securities and Exchange Board of India that its share prices were manipulated after Ronnie Screwvala made "false and misleading statements" about cinema exhibitors levying certain higher charges from film producers.
Screwvala, a noted film producer, said there is "nothing slanderous or malicious," in his complaint filed with Competition Commission of India—the bone of contention between PVR and him.
Screwvala has alleged that multiplex operators, including PVR, are charging higher virtual print fee from producers for exhibiting their films.
VPF is a charge levied from film producers for exhibiting their movies by digital cinema service providers.
Complaining to markets regulator SEBI, PVR said that on March 19 Screwvala started tweeting about his complaint filed with the CCI against multiplex chain operators saying that four large multiplex operators allegedly earn around Rs 400 crore from VPF in a year.
"The false and misleading statements from Mr. Screwvala has resulted in manipulation of the stock prices of PVR," the multiplex chain operator said in the complaint.
According to PVR, Screwvala made multiple tweets that misled analysts and stock market investors.
"We believe that Screwvala's repeated tweets, retweets and false statement are leading to an artificial volatility in the stock price of PVR as he continue to provide information which is untrue and misleading," it said.
Countering the allegations, PVR cited the balance sheet of PVR and Inox to say that the total VPF collected by them in 2017-18 stood at Rs 17.24 crore and Rs 24.64 crore, respectively.
PVR has asked SEBI to "enquire into the matter and take appropriate action".
"I stand by all stated on our complaint to the CCI and there is nothing slanderous or malicious," Screwvala said.
According to him, issues such as discriminatory action of multiplexes in giving preferential treatment to Hollywood movies over Indian movies or "why consumers are forced to sit through 15 minutes and more of advertising even though they paid for their ticket is still unexplained".
"... the penny drops with the multiplex owners that the ultimate risk takers are the content creators and they are only a service provider and so cannot take the lion's share of the revenue it would be fair to state that their action is in collusion and to divide and rule," he said.