Mergers & Acquisitions

SEBI Delisting Regulations 2021

The SEBI (Delisting of Equity Shares) Regulations, 2021 (“2021 Regulations”), were notified on June 10, 2021. The new regulations do not substantially deviate from the SEBI (Delisting of Equity Shares) Regulations, 2009 (“2009 Regulations”). However, certain incremental changes are introduced that further refine and streamline the delisting process. The key changes effected by the 2021 Regulations, with specific reference to voluntary delisting offers, are as follows:


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Indian Mutual Funds – New M&A Rules! Anu Tiwari (Partner), Ritu Sajnani (Senior Associate), Utkarsh Bhatnagar (Senior Associate) and Karthik Koragal (Associate) The Securities Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) carried out a regulatory revamp exercise of SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996 (“MF Regulations”) and various circulars issued under it by way of a circular on mutual fund(s) (“MF”) issued on March 4, 2021 (“MF Circular”), effective from March 5, 2021, thereby streamlining a robust regime governing the reporting, compliance and disclosure requirements applicable to asset management company(ies) (“AMC”) and the trustee(s) of such AMCs. Reporting requirements strengthened Currently, the MF Circular requires an AMC to furnish the complete details of any indirect change in its control/ promoters of the sponsor(s) to SEBI and also notify details of a proposed change in control (whether direct or indirect) to the unitholders, by way of an email (in addition to publishing the same in newspapers. Similarly, in case of any proposed change to the fundamental attributes of a MF scheme, trustees are now mandated to obtain comments from SEBI, prior to effectuating such change. With an intent to ensure better compliance, SEBI has also expanded the scope of ‘key personnel’ of an AMC to include chief investment officer, chief risk officer, chief information security officer, chief operation officer, compliance officer, sales head, investor relation officer(s), etc. in addition to the erstwhile list of key personnel, which included the chief executive officer, fund manager(s), dealer(s) and head of other departments of the AMC. Hence, inter alia these new key personnel who are also now prohibited from carrying on self-dealing or front running activities, in addition to meeting the prescribed eligibility criteria. The revised reporting requirements extends SEBI’s regulatory prowess to monitor and bring more transparency in relation to the indirect change in control of the AMCs’ process. Relaxations and scrutiny go hand-in-hand In order to facilitate innovation in the MF space, SEBI has introduced certain relaxations like permitting employees of AMCs to participate in private placement of equity by any company, has allowed trustees to delegate its function(s) to declare/ fix a record date and decide the quantum of dividend, etc. to AMC officials. Further, trustees are now mandated to report to SEBI the MF securities dealt by them, only if a transaction exceeds INR 5 lakhs (vis-a-vis the previous threshold of INR 1 lakh). The regulator has also classified investment in non-convertible preference shares (“NCPSs”) as a ‘debt instrument’ and accordingly, limitation of a MF scheme to invest not more than 10% of its net asset value in debt instruments will also include NCPSs. The trustees now being required to obtain SEBI comments before effecting a ‘change in in the fundamental attributes of a MF scheme’ seems burden-some, as the regulator’s role, and oversight, already guarantees for the requisite checks and balances to govern the MF scheme, including for MF scheme transfers, through separate regulations and circulars in this behalf. Above is likely to add another layer to M&A deal-making, with already many layers involved, impacting deal costs and timelines, especially if a ‘new sponsor’ application may be involved, from a process, governance and unit holders’ standpoint. Albeit above ties into SEBI’s increasing focus on MF trustee’s accountability, which has hitherto been an overlooked area, given the nature and composition of MF trustee boards. Though, done with noble regulatory intent, one would have to see whether the above changes, including expansion of key personnel, further ‘spook’ trustee directors, especially independents - already an onerous position, with few upsides, especially after Calcutta High Court’s Order in the ITC / JPMorgan MF Trustees case, and SEBI’s approach qua Franklin Templeton trustees in 2020, expand the scope of potential SEBI show-cause ‘noticees’ from the current list of 7 (!), and shoot MF M&A in the knees, which was given a new lease of life recently via SEBI dropping the ‘3/ 5’ profitability criterion in Regulation 7, MF Regulations.

The Securities Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) carried out a regulatory revamp exercise of SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996 (“MF Regulations”) and various circulars issued under it by way of a circular on mutual fund(s) (“MF”) issued on March 4, 2021 (“MF Circular”), effective from March 5, 2021, thereby streamlining a robust regime governing the reporting, compliance and disclosure requirements applicable to asset management company(ies) (“AMC”) and the trustee(s) of such AMCs.
Continue Reading FIG Papers (No.4 : Series – 2): Indian Mutual Funds – New M&A Rules!

 Indian Mutual Funds – M&A Wave

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) recently approved amendments to the SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996 (“MF Regulations”) at its December 16, 2020 board meeting, notified on February 4, 2021 through the MF Regulations by way of the SEBI (Mutual Funds) (Amendment) Regulations, 2021, with effect from March 5, 2021.

Currently, a Mutual Fund (“MF”) ‘sponsor’ is required to have a ‘sound track record’ i.e. having profits  in 3 out of the last 5 years, including the fifth year. Recognising the role of emerging tech/ fintech companies in the Indian financial services space and to facilitate MF innovation/ geographic penetration, SEBI relaxed the above profit criterion for sponsors. Going forward, MF sponsors who do not meet the above, would still be eligible to, either set up a new, or acquire an existing, MF asset management company (“AMC”) and trustee company, if it has a minimum net-worth of INR 1 billion as contribution towards the AMC’s net-worth, which is required to be maintained till the sponsor makes profits for 5 consecutive financial years.
Continue Reading FIG Papers (No. 3: Series – 1) : Indian Mutual Funds – M&A Wave!

Takeover of Publicly Traded Companies - Flashback 2020

 India’s twin achievement of receiving the highest-ever FDI[1] and touching record highs at the bourses[2] occurred in the Financial Year 2020-2021. While the former came about in the first five months of the fiscal year (i.e. during the COVID-19 lockdown), the latter took place near the end of the calendar year 2020.

The year 2020 saw unprecedented business disruption due to the pandemic. Many Indian businesses were forced to reorganise and innovate to tackle the pandemic, which also resulted in revaluation of many firms by their acquirers. Cash rich and savvy investors took advantage of this unrivalled opportunity to make acquisitions and investments which is evident from the overall high deal activity in the calendar year 2020, especially in Q4.
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Regulatory Considerations for M&A Investors During COVID-19 Era

CAM authors collaborate for this article with our Guest Authors –  Michael J. Cochran, Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton and Gabrielle Gollomp , Associate at Dentons

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic volatility has dramatically impacted the US and the Indian M&A market. While many high-profile companies have abandoned proposed deals, various other companies have expressed or maintained interest in pursuing strategic acquisitions during this time. This article discusses the regulatory changes that parties should consider when contemplating M&A events in the Indian and the US markets in the wake of COVID-19.
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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.
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Covid-19 And M&A In India - Navigating Risks And Understanding Opportunities 

As the Covid-19 crisis deepens, and the number of positive cases and casualties continue to mount rapidly, governments across the world are enforcing stringent lockdown and social distancing measures. With the engines of economic growth grinding to a halt, the pandemic has mutated into an economic crisis, plunging the global economy into an unparalleled recession. India is no exception[1], and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in India is sure to sniffle, snuffle and sneeze, at least in the short-term. From a legal standpoint, we believe that there will be consequent changes and fundamental shifts in the M&A landscape.
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Control Premium: Analysis of Recent Top Deals and What 2020 is Likely to See

While of all us are getting used the to the new normal and are hoping that the worst will be behind us soon, we thought it would be great to share with you (i) our analysis of control premium paid in top takeover transactions of publicly traded companies in the last three financial years, and (ii) our thoughts on the way pricing trends will shape up in 2020 and what regulators should do about the current pricing regime for M&A transactions.

Part A deals with our analysis of ‘control premium’ paid in top 20 control deals (involving tender offers) in each of the last three financial years, aggregating to a total of top 60 control deals. Part B deals with the broad parameters of the way regulatory regime should change to allow pricing flexibility and exemption from open offer so that the regime is more contextual to enable deal making in the current market situation; we call it the ‘Deal Freedom’.
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Global trends in private M&A

This guest post is by Jaya Gupta, Head of India Desk, Corporate at Allen & Overy LLP
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In 2019, global M&A activity switched down a gear although it was still the third-strongest year in a decade in terms of value and transaction volume.

With macroeconomic issues such as continuing trade wars between the US and China, tensions in the Middle East and, to some extent, Brexit, impacting cross-border activities, many investors resorted to strategic domestic megadeals.


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Cross-border demergers – lack of legislative intent?

In the matter of Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries Limited, the Ahmedabad bench of the NCLT has ruled that Section 234 of the Companies Act, 2013 and the FEMA Cross Border Merger Regulations, 2018, do not permit cross-border demergers. Sun Pharma sought to demerge two of its investment undertakings in India into two overseas resulting companies, based in the Netherlands and the US. Being a listed entity, it obtained prior approval of SEBI through the relevant stock exchanges and the requisite corporate consents of its shareholders and creditors. The RBI granted its implied deemed approval by stating that the demerged company is required to abide by the applicable rules and regulations, which it had undertaken that it would. None of the other stakeholders to whom notices were issued by the tribunal, including the Registrar of Companies (ROC), objected to the demerger on the ground that it was not permitted by law.
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