Photo of Yash J. Ashar

National Head and Partner in the Capital Markets Practice at the Mumbai Office of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. An experienced practitioner in Indian securities law, Yash has been associated with a number of capital markets transactions including initial public offerings, follow-on offerings, QIPs, rights offerings, ADRs, GDRs and FCCBs.  He can be reached at yash.ashar@cyrilshroff.com‎

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

Infrastructure Investment Trusts – Simplifying the Structure

The infrastructure sector is a key driver for any economy. Among the many avenues of financing large-scale investments in infrastructure, including mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments and capital raising, setting-up and establishing infrastructure investment trusts (“InvITs”) has begun to gain traction with developers of infrastructure projects, including by public sector undertakings, to enable them to monetise their assets and undertake further infrastructure development. In the last few months, an increasing interest has also been evinced by large private equity firms, development institutions and multilateral and bilateral financial institutions in not only investing in the units of InvITs, but also in setting-up InvITs either on their own or jointly with Indian developers due to the yields offered by InvITs and the favourable and welcome changes to the tax regime applicable to InvITs, including unlisted InvITs.
Continue Reading Infrastructure Investment Trusts – Simplifying the Structure

Open Market for Buy-Back of Securities - SEBI

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) introduced the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Buy-Back of Securities) Regulations, 2018 (the “SEBI Regulations”) with effect from September 11, 2018, which govern buy-backs undertaken by a listed company.

A listed company’s shares and other specified securities can be bought back using any of the following methods:
Continue Reading Open Market for Buy-Backs: Key Considerations

Continuous disclosure obligations - Indian securities market

A regulatory environment that supports robust secondary market disclosures is critical for a well-functioning securities market. Ongoing disclosures by listed companies are being increasingly scrutinised by regulators, stock exchanges and market participants to see if timely and accurate disclosures of all material information are being made by the listed entity. Accordingly, it is important for companies to ensure that developments in their businesses translate to appropriate regulatory disclosures.

A recent example of the importance of secondary market disclosure is the Facebook case. In 2019, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced charges against Facebook Inc. (“Facebook”) for making misleading disclosures in its periodic filings against the risks pertaining to misuse of its user data by third parties. The SEC alleged that in public disclosures, Facebook presented the risk of misuse of user data as “merely hypothetical”, when they were aware that a third-party developer had actually misused Facebook user data. The SEC press release states that Facebook has agreed to pay $100 million to settle the charges.

We discuss this development and learnings for the Indian market below.
Continue Reading Continuous Disclosure Obligations: Learnings for the Indian Securities Market

SEBI-Streamlines-Rights-Issue-Process

The SEBI has streamlined certain aspects of the rights issue process that is expected to not only reduce the timelines but also provide clarity on the renunciation and trading of rights entitlements. These are welcome changes and will potentially make rights issues a preferred option to raise capital for listed companies.

Whilst rights issues are offerings to existing shareholders, it typically takes 55 to 58 days to complete the process (excluding SEBI review and the time taken for due diligence and drafting the offer document). The process involves (i) a minimum 15-day rights issue application period, (ii) mandatory participation by certain investors only through the non-ASBA process (such as through cheque) and (iii) a seven clear working days intimation prior to the record date. SEBI has addressed some of these concerns through amendments to the SEBI ICDR Regulations, SEBI Listing Regulations (both effective from December 26, 2019) and a circular with effect from February 14, 2020.
Continue Reading SEBI Streamlines Rights Issue Process

Electrosteel Steels Limited v. Securities and Exchange Board of India

On November 14, 2019, almost a decade after the initial public offering of Electrosteel Steels Limited (Electrosteel), the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) delivered its judgment in Electrosteel Steels Limited v. Securities and Exchange Board of India[1] (the SAT Order). It partially upheld the judgment dated March 31, 2016 (SEBI Order) of the adjudicating officer of the Securities and Exchange Board of India[2] (SEBI). The SAT Order has discussed the concept of ‘materiality’ in the context of disclosure in offer documents.
Continue Reading To Disclose or Not to Disclose? An Analysis of the Order of the Securities Appellate Tribunal in Electrosteel Steels Limited v. Securities and Exchange Board of India

Depository Receipts - SEBI Framework SMM

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has introduced a framework for issuance of depository receipts (DRs) by companies listed or to be listed in India ( DR Framework), by its circular dated October 10, 2019.

In the early years of liberalisation and up to the time SEBI permitted qualified institutions placement (QIPs) in 2006, DR issuances formed a significant and important part of foreign investment into the Indian equity markets. However, in the past five years, there have been very few DR issuances, for a variety of reasons including due to regulatory uncertainty around operational guidelines for DRs and concerns in relation to compliance with rules under the anti-money laundering legislation.
Continue Reading SEBI Introduces Framework for Issuance of Depository Receipts

Last month, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) passed an order in favour of Factorial Master Fund[1] (Factorial). This overturned the order of the SEBI Whole Time Member who had held that Factorial had contravened the provisions of the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (PIT Regulations) by trading in the securities of L&T Finance Holdings Limited (LTFH), while in possession of unpublished price sensitive information (UPSI).

Continue Reading The Sound of SEBI’s Silence: Will the Factorial Order Change the Rules of the Game?

Financial investors in India are scared of regulatory uncertainties. Not that uncertainties are exclusive to our country but it’s a critical risk factor that is assessed by those making substantial investments. Historically, one of the most important regulatory concerns for such investors is related to being categorised as ‘promoter’ of a listed company, both when the company is going public and also in cases where a private equity (PE) player intends to take a control position in an already listed company, by replacing its present promoters or by becoming co-promoters. Promoter liability theories have kept such investors away from taking control positions in listed companies. On the contrary, in the unlisted space where the promoter position is perceived differently, control deals are a way of life for certain PE funds in India.

Continue Reading New Promoters on the Block: The Financial Investors

Over the years, companies have used employee stock option schemes (ESOP Schemes) as an effective method to align employee interests with shareholders, reward their efforts, increase their loyalty towards the company and motivate employees to perform better.

An initial public offering (IPO) and consequent listing of equity shares is one of the critical ways in which employees seek value appreciation in stock options and equity shares held by them. Accordingly, unlisted companies typically align timing of exercise of options under ESOP Schemes with their plans to undertake an IPO.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2009, as amended (SEBI ICDR Regulations), which regulates IPOs, provides exceptions for ESOPs from certain eligibility conditions to be fulfilled by the issuer undertaking the IPO as well as transfer restrictions on equity shares applicable after the completion of the IPO.

However, issuers have faced challenges in the past with respect to eligibility conditions if the options have remained outstanding with individuals who have ceased to be an employee of the issuer.

Further, issuers are being increasingly questioned by such former employees, who continue to hold shares in the issuer but are not offered lock-in exemptions available to existing employees. Additional basis to these concerns is that former employees are treated beneficially under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Share Based Employee Benefits) Regulations, 2014 (ESOP Regulations) and the Companies Act, 2013 and similar benefits have not been recognised under the SEBI ICDR Regulations.


Continue Reading Survival of Employee Stock Options through the IPO process: Are former employees stranded?