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Should recent events at Axis Mutual Fund worry India’s retail investors?

Axis Bank

India’s seventh biggest mutual fund house, Axis Mutual Fund, suspended two fund managers last Friday pending the completion of an investigation it has been conducting over the last two months.

(VO 1)

While the nature of the irregularities was not revealed, media reports say the fund managers were allegedly involved in front-running the trades of the mutual fund on their personal accounts.

Front-running is a dubious market practice in which an insider — who is privy to a big future transaction by a fund or big investor — takes advantage of the information. Large orders usually move a stock’s price and the insider buys shares just before the big order hits the market and sells them once the price moves up. It can adversely affect the investor in the fund and is banned in India. Several cases of have come to the fore earlier too.

Last year, Sebi had taken action against three dealers of Reliance Securities for front-running the trades of Tata Absolute Return Fund, an alternative investment fund.

In 2006-07, the markets regulator found that an equity dealer at HDFC Mutual Fund was passing on trading information to an outsider entity.

The suspended fund managers allegedly informed brokers about stocks that they intended to buy in large quantities. The modus operandi was to benefit from a potential movement in stocks due to large orders from the fund house.

The fund house has now reassigned their responsibilities to other fund managers in seven schemes, which have combined assets under management of over Rs 7,700 crore.

A financial daily reported that a preliminary investigation pointed to in as many as nine stocks that led to ill-gotten gain to the tune of Rs 170 crore.

Business Standard on Monday reported that Sebi is examining allegations of front-running and other irregularities against a number of domestic fund managers.

Developments at have reportedly prompted Sebi to speed up the probe to ensure that there is no drop in confidence in the Rs 39-trillion domestic mutual fund (MF) industry.

Axis Mutual Fund’s MD and CEO Chandresh Nigam tried to play it down, saying the recent developments do not impact the portfolios held by any of the schemes of .

In a letter to investors, he said the fund house has not put any restriction on redemptions. manages assets worth Rs 2.59 trillion.

India has more than 2.4 crore mutual fund investors with 10.3 crore folios. Should they worry over the recent events?

According to Deven Choksey, Managing Director, KR Choksey Investment Manager, possible front-running does not impact fund management, but investors should judge based on the performance of the fund. He says, front-running is a common problem in this industry across the globe and there are existing checks and balances which will be strengthened further.

Shriram Subramanian, founder and MD of InGovern Research Services, says that need not react in a knee jerk manner but should demand more transparency from the fund house

Speaking to Business Standard, Subramanian says, investors do not need to have a knee jerk reaction to Axis MF episode, as it doesn’t seem to be a systemic issue within Axis MF. But so far Axis MF and Sebi were not forthcoming about what transpired, and investors should seek an explanation from Axis Mutual Fund. A detailed explanation is necessary from the fund house, he says.

Experts say that the Axis Mutual Fund episode should be treated as an isolated incident and should not be too worried. However, in order for the mutual fund industry to hold on to the trust it has built over decades, transparency from the regulator as well as fund houses is paramount. Sebi should also take stringent steps against front runners. Barring erring entities from markets for a short period may not be enough.

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Legacy on the Bricks takes worry out of creating special events; now booking into 2023

Legacy on the Bricks takes worry out of creating special events; now booking into 2023

KEARNEY — Bailey Bolte always dreamed of being a wedding planner. Now she has achieved that dream.

On Dec. 1, Bolte and her husband Cody opened Legacy on the Bricks at 16 W. 21st St. It’s a venue for weddings, receptions, anniversaries, graduations, quinceaneras, birthdays, bridal and baby showers and more.

It can seat up to 450 people. Its large windows allow sunlight to warm and brighten the dining room. Its walls are white and the floor is gray so clients can decorate in any color scheme they choose. They can choose from black, white or gray table linens.

Legacy on the Bricks has been three years in the making.

Bolte was a paramedic with CHI Health Good Samaritan for five years until she married Cody in the summer of 2019.

Legacy on the Bricks

Bailey Bolte, right, consults with a couple about an upcoming event. She prefers that people make reservations to meet with her, but walk-ins can sometimes be accommodated.

Then, seeking more conventional working hours, she opened The Wedding Sisters in June 2020. She runs that business out of her home with the assistance of her sisters Brianna Paxton; Kimberly White and her husband Mahlon, and sister-in-law Chelsey Petersen, who lives in Minden. They rent linens, custom centerpieces, aisle runners, tables, chairs and other items for weddings and other celebrations.

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She loved that venture, but she and Cody still dreamed of owning a wedding event venue. They scouted the region for a location, but came up empty. “We started planning back in 2019, but then COVID hit, and that stalled everything,” Bolte, a Minden native, said.

One morning, not long after Bolte delivered son Ryker in October 2020, she happened to drive by the building at 16 W. 21st and noticed that the east end, the former home of Jacobi CarpetOne Floor & Home, was empty. Jacobi had relocated to a new site on Kearney’s north end.

“I was driving with my little newborn and I saw the ‘for lease’ sign. We looked at it that afternoon and ended up buying the whole building,” she said.

Legacy on the Bricks

Bailey Bolte poses outside with the sign on the door at Legacy on the Bricks at 16 W. 21st St.

The purchase was final in June 2021. They spent the next six months renovating the 8,000 square feet they use for Legacy on the Bricks. Fitness 101, a 13-year-old business, remains in the building’s other half.

The Boltes tore out everything except the support beams. They put in new plumbing, heating and air conditioning. They painted, installed carpeting and put in a state-of-the-art speaker system, along with seven 70-inch television screens, a sound system, six chandeliers and lights to change the color of the room.

They also put in tables and New York-style venue high-end chairs rather than standard banquet chairs. While the venue can seat up to 450 people, Bolte said tables and chairs can be arranged for groups of any size. “We can get creative,” she said.

So far, business is off and running. Bolte has planned 23 events for 2022, including birthday parties, anniversaries, quinceaneras, weddings, preschool programs and quilting shows. The entire month of June 2023 is booked, and July 2023 isn’t far behind. “We still have available dates for 2022, and a few open weekends, but the community has embraced us. It’s been awesome,” she said.

She and her husband run the business by themselves. They expect their second child, a daughter, on March 15.

Bolte knows how critical wedding planning can be. She and Cody were to get married at the Younes Conference Center on Aug. 3, 2019, but when floods tore through that structure on July 9, those plans suddenly changed.

Legacy on the Bricks

Tables are elegantly understated for events at Legacy on the Bricks, including weddings, birthdays and showers.

“I was working that day helping move guests out of hotels, and I knew right away our wedding wasn’t going to happen there,” she said. But they couldn’t find another available venue that would hold their 600 guests.

Then Barb Petersen, Bolte’s mother, called the Kearney County Fairgrounds in Minden. The fairgrounds were to be closed that day in preparation for the county fair, which was to start the day after the wedding. “But I prayed about it,” Petersen said. “The next morning, the fairgrounds called. They said they would let us rent it if we had it cleaned up before Sunday morning.”

Peterson, who owns her own design business, Classic Interiors, led 80 friends and relatives in transforming the fairgrounds into a beautiful wedding venue.

“We put lights on the ceiling. Friends steamed all the tablecloths. It was so special. So many helping hands showed up. Neighbors, the community of Minden and our family really came to our rescue,” Bolte said. True to their word, they had it all cleaned up by 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

That’s partly why Legacy on the Bricks can accommodate 450 guests. Few event sites in Kearney can hold large crowds.

Legacy on the Bricks

Flowers and big, bright mirrors make the ladies room an inviting place.

Bolte also did last-minute wedding planning for her sister Brianna’s wedding in May 2020. The ceremony was to happen in Minden, but Brianna’s fiance was in the U.S. Air Force, and when COVID-19 hit, he was not allowed to leave Georgia.

“We all loaded up in a 49-foot motor home pulling a 14-foot trailer,” Petersen said. “I sent blueprints to a landscaper in Georgia, and he built a stamped concrete patio and a pergola. We transformed her backyard in just three days, even staining the fence and doing landscaping.”

Bolte added, “It was an intimate wedding, with fewer than 20 people, but we made it beautiful. We love thinking on our feet. We’ve probably been through any situation people might bring us.”

She and Cody named their business Legacy on the Bricks because both lost a beloved grandparent in May. “We started talking a lot about legacy, and we realized people can start their legacies in our venue. We like to say, “Your legacy starts here,” she said.