Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What do you do if you lose your physical shares? A Case Study

In the late 1990s, I used to work for Steel Authority of India (SAIL) as an engineer in their plant in Durgapur, West Bengal. In 1998, I purchased 100 Shares of SAIL from Open Market. 

Those were the days of Shares in Physical Form. SAIL promptly send me the shares and I thought that I kept them safe. 

I was wrong. I moved out of Durgapur in the end of 1998 and lost the physical copy of the shares somewhere in Transit. 

I had no clue what to do about  my lost shares. Every time SAIL declared dividends, I used to wistfully remember my lost shares. While I did not remember the folio number or the certificate number, I never really forgot the 100 shares that I had. Afterall, SAIL was my first employer and one tends to be a bit affectionate about your first employer and their share certificate.

Time passed. Internet revolution came. Facebook and Twitter appeared on the scene and Google became the leading Search Engine. Emails evolved from Hotmail, USA.net, Yahoomail and finally ending up in GMail. 

SAIL changed. They had their own Website and Portal. They implemented SAP ERP. They digitized every document including shareholding information. From physical shares, they moved to compulsory Demat of shares. One could transact only through Demat Shares.

The other day, I was browsing the SAIL website and tucked within 'Investor Relations' Tab, I found an Excel document detailing the 'Unclaimed Dividends' in the last 7 years.

It was like a manna from web. I voraciously browsed the files and found my name, my old address in Durgapur and my Folio Number. 

Having got this information, I needed to do the following.

1.  Change my address in the SAIL database so that future SAIL Shares will come to my current address
2. Have SAIL send the pending dividend cheques to my updated address. This will also enable SAIL to send the future dividends to the updated address.
3. Collect the Duplicate Shares in physical form
4. Demat the same.

I got all the contact information from the SAIL Website. Navigating the user unfriendly and barely updated website took some effort, but I dit it all the same and got the information.

I immediately send an email to the addresses mentioned in the Website. (Needless to say, the email id of Registrars of the Company was mentioned wrong, so was their contact information). Almost immediately I got a reply from the SAIL Investor relations Team. 

They send my details for processing. Soon I got an information from Registrars M/s MCS Limited that the address has been updated in my portfolio. Step 1 Completed.

Step 2, collecting pending dividends is tricky. As per Section 124 of the Companies Act, 2013, the unclaimed dividend lying with companies is required to be transferred to the Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF), administered by the Central Government after a period of seven years of its declaration. 

This means that SAIL will keep the unclaimed dividend from FY2008-09. Regarding unclaimed dividends of the previous years, I will have to follow a different process. 

Based on the above, I have received the unclaimed dividend from SAIL from FY2008-09 Onwards. Part of step 2 has been completed. 

I will update this post as and when the next steps are completed.

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