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Market Rumours SEBI’s New Prescription and India Inc’s Dilemma SM

Context

With effect from October 1, 2023, India’s top 100 listed entities (based on market capitalisation) would have to mandatorily confirm, deny, or clarify market rumours to the stock exchanges, and this requirement extends to the top 250 listed entities with effect from April 1, 2024. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”), by way of notifying amendments to the LODR Regulations on June 14, 2023 (“LODR Amendments”), has introduced this mandatory requirement under Regulation 30 read with Schedule III of the LODR Regulations (referred to below as the “Market Rumours Amendment”).

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The Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) has recently introduced significant changes to the governance framework for listed companies through an amendment to the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015 (“LODR Regulations”).

The amendments were signaled by various consultation papers issued by SEBI over the last 6-9 months, including consultation papers on ‘Review of disclosure requirements for material events or information under SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015’ and ‘Strengthening Corporate Governance at Listed Entities by Empowering Shareholders – Amendments to the SEBI (LODR) Regulations, 2015’.

Continue Reading SEBI Amendments to the LODR – An Overview of Key Changes
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Enforceability of Put Options under SCRA – Bombay HC’s latest judgment finally clears the air!  

Historical Background

The legal position with respect to enforceability of put option clauses has not been a glorious chapter in the history of India’s securities law. The genesis of this vexed issue lies in – (i) the erstwhile Section 20 of the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 (“SCRA”) which had provided that all options in securities shall be illegal[1]; and (ii) a notification issued by the Ministry of Finance in 1969, which inter alia provided that any contract for sale or purchase of securities, other than such spot delivery contract or contract for cash or hand delivery or special delivery in any securities shall be prohibited[2] (“1969 Notification”).

Continue Reading Enforceability of Put Options under SCRA – Bombay HC’s latest judgment finally clears the air!  
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Introduction

In December 2022, SEBI’s Board approved certain amendments to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Buy-Back of Securities) Regulations, 2018 (the “Existing Regulations”). These amendments were published on February 7, 2023, pursuant to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Buy-Back of Securities) (Amendment) Regulations, 2023 (“Amendment Regulations and with the Existing Regulations the “Buyback Regulations”). The Amendment Regulations come into force from the 30th day of their publication in the official gazette, i.e. on March 9, 2023. The emphasis of several of the amendments was on simplifying the buyback process, by eliminating certain methods of buyback and reducing overall timelines.

Continue Reading Simplifications and Eliminations: A Synopsis of the Amended Buyback Regulations
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Stock Exchange Process

On February 1, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) had introduced the mechanism for offer for sale through the stock exchange (the “Stock Exchange OFS”) with the intention of facilitating offloading by promoters and promoter group members in listed companies. It was expected to bring in transparency in secondary transactions as well as draw wider participation. The introduction of the Stock Exchange OFS was also a recognition of limitations of then existing methods for achieving minimum public shareholding (the “MPS”), i.e. taking the public issue route, which was both time consuming and cumbersome.

Continue Reading Offer for sale through the stock exchange process – whether recent changes will revitalise the process?

Analysis of recently attempted Voluntary Delistings

The number of voluntarily delistings seen in the last 1 (one) year has surpassed the number of delistings attempted earlier in a single year. Promoters are choosing to voluntarily delist their companies from the stock exchanges for various reasons including stock market price not being reflective of true value of the company’s stock, having full control over operations (without being required to go for any public vote for critical transactions), restructuring of their group entities, greater flexibility and reducing costs related to numerous regulatory compliances.

Even the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) introduced various amendments (mostly for tightening of procedure) under the new SEBI (Delisting of Equity Shares) Regulations, 2021 (2021 Delisting Regulations). The 2021 Delisting Regulations replaced the old SEBI (Delisting of Equity Shares) Regulations, 2009 (2009 Delisting Regulations). However, the key elements of a delisting process i.e. requirement of super majority of minority shareholder being in favour of the delisting proposal and the bidding process through the reserve book build (RBB) mechanism remain the same even under the new 2021 Delisting Regulations. Continue Reading Analysis of recently attempted Voluntary Delistings

Post-IPO financial results

Under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, as amended (“SEBI Listing Regulations”), listed companies are required to submit their financial results within 45 days of end of each quarter, other than the last quarter of a financial year where they have 60 days.

Continue Reading Post-IPO financial results – when to disclose

Major Impetus to IPO Rush

Despite the challenging times, the Indian capital markets are hitting all-time highs on a daily basis and have been flooded with capital. This has seen a rush of equity offerings over the last 12 months including record filings for draft documents over the last few months. In their continuous efforts to make India exchanges more competitive, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) has notified the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) (Third Amendment) Regulations, 2021 (“ICDR Amendment”). Pursuant to the ICDR Amendment, SEBI has revisited some of the requirements relating to lock in of equity shares post-IPO (one of the oldest requirements of SEBI), as well as the concept of  promoter group and group companies under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2018, as amended (“ICDR Regulations”).

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PRIOR INTIMATION REQUIREMENT UNDER THE LISTING REGULATIONS - A CRITIQUE 

Introduction

Norms concerning corporate governance in India have evolved over a period of time. Since markets and businesses are inherently dynamic, they continue to evolve globally. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”), to its credit, has been on the ball and contributed significantly towards raising the standards of corporate governance for listed entities in India. The proof of the pudding, however, is in the eating and to this end, this piece examines the relevance of the extant requirement of prior intimation prescribed for listed entities in the current market.

Regulations 29 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, as amended (“Listing Regulations”), requires a listed entity to intimate the stock exchanges beforehand if its board of directors (“Board”) have a meeting scheduled to consider certain specified proposals, including financial results, buy-back of securities, voluntary delisting and fund raising (intimation is also required for general meeting or postal ballot for this proposal indicating the type of issuance). Continue Reading Prior Intimation Requirement under the Listing Regulations – A Critique

USING SPAC VEHICLES AS A MEANS OF LISTING OUTSIDE INDIA

An overview 

Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (“SPACs”) have made a comeback on the Wall Street. SPACs are essentially investment companies backed by sponsors to raise capital from the public in an initial public offering (“IPO”) in the USA for the sole purpose of using the proceeds to acquire targets that are to be identified after the IPO. The eventual objective is to list the target. As of July 31, 2020, SPACs have raised close to USD 24 billion globally this year. The buzz around SPACs with available funding has reached Indian shores on the possibility of Indian companies being potential SPAC targets or Indian companies teaming up with SPACs to potentially list themselves in overseas markets. Continue Reading Using SPAC Vehicles as a Means of Listing Outside India