Tax implications on INVITs, REITs and its Unitholders under Finance Act 2020

As you are aware, the Finance Minister, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, presented the Union Budget 2020-2021 on February 1, 2020 and consequently, introduced the Finance Bill, 2020 (“Bill”) in the Lok Sabha. The Bill comprised the financial proposals, including taxation related proposals, to amend the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (“Income-tax Act”) for the financial year 2021. Subsequently, the Finance Minister and her team had several discussions with various stakeholders, who we understand made many representations, seeking changes in some of the proposals. Pursuant to this, amendments to the Bill were presented and the Bill, incorporating the amendments was passed by the parliament on March 26, 2020 and received the assent of the President of India on March 27, 2020. It has now been enacted as the Finance Act, 2020 (“Finance Act”).
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Mutual Funds and Alternative Investments - Stewardship Code

Introduction

On December 24, 2019, Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) released a circular setting up a stewardship code for Asset Management Companies (“AMCs”), Mutual Funds (“MFs”) and all the categories of Alternative Investment Funds (“AIFs”) investing in listed Indian companies (“Stewardship Code” or “Code”). In keeping with global trends, SEBI has made it necessary for the power wielding cash-rich institutional investors, to act in accordance with the responsibilities that invariably accompany and behoove such powers and formulate a policy adopting the principles enshrined in the Code.

The Stewardship Code prescribes certain principles which, aim at enhancing the responsibilities of the AMCs/ AIFs to protect the interests of their investors/beneficiaries. The requirements pertaining to the Stewardship Code shall come into effect on April 1, 2020.
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 Regulation 22(2A) of SEBI Takeover Regulations

A question that comes up regularly in the context of an underlying secondary transaction that triggers an open offer is whether such a transaction can be closed on the stock exchange? This is due to reservations expressed by the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in relation to the interpretation of certain provisions of the SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations).

This has led to unintended consequences, which cast a doubt on the legality of the on-market closure of underlying share purchase transactions. The shadow of this doubt unfortunately extends to on-market closures even if the on-market closure follows the completion of the open-offer process. In this blog post[1] we would like to clarify that the on-market closure of underlying transactions is not contrary to Takeover Regulations and the provisions of Takeover Regulations are not subject to multiple interpretations on this aspect.[2]
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