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.


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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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Prakash Gupta Judgment – Has the Supreme Court given more Powers to SEBI in the Matter of Compounding

Introduction

The Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 (“SEBI Act”) was essentially introduced to protect the interests of investors and to regulate and promote the development of the securities market in India. As a direct consequence of this legislative intention, the SEBI Act lays down that contravention, attempt to contravene and abetment of contravention of the provisions of the SEBI Act would be punishable with imprisonment and fines of varying quantum.


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SEBI Regulatory Update

There have been significant changes to the regulatory regime governing alternative investment funds (“AIFs”)[1] in the past year and a half. In its Board Meeting dated August 06, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) approved a fresh set of amendments to the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012 (“AIF Regulations”), governing AIFs, intended to ease compliance requirements, provide greater investment flexibility and streamline regulatory processes. A regulatory circular giving effect to these proposed amendments is awaited.


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Extra-territorial application of India’s securities law – Has SEBI cast its net too wide?

If a connection exists, it is for the Legislature to decide how far it should go in the exercise of its powers.[1]

Introduction

The territorial application of laws made by Parliament is enshrined in Article 245 of the Constitution of India (“Constitution”). The universal presumption that laws made by a country are limited to its own territorial borders, is provided under Article 245(1) of the Constitution, which provides that “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India.” However, Article 245(2) of the Constitution carves out a specific exception providing that a law made by Parliament, pursuant to Article 245(1), shall not be invalidated on the ground that such a law would have extra-territorial operation. Most countries have enacted extra-territorial laws with the US being the clear leader in this regard having enacted anti-corruption law, securities laws etc. which have extra-territorial application.


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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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SEBI Clarifies Key Aspects of Investment Advisers Regulations through Informal Guidance

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”), through its interpretive letter, issued upon the request of Paytm Money Limited (“Paytm”) under the SEBI (Informal Guidance) Scheme, 2003 (“Informal Guidance Scheme”), on April 09, 2021, has clarified that investment advisers (“IAs”), registered with SEBI under the SEBI (Investment Advisers) Regulations, 2013 (“IA Regulations”), may not: (i) be reimbursed from the asset management companies for any expenses incurred for services rendered to their clients, even though the adviser may not be charging any advisory or execution fees; (ii) seek electronic consent from clients prior to rendering any investment advice, instead of a signed investment advisory agreement; and (iii) appoint a department head, who is not a managing director or designated director or managing chairman or executive chairman or any other equivalent management body of the IA, as its ‘principal officer’.
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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.
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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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SEBI Changes to Scheme Circular - Is it a case of over-prescription

SEBI has been continuously streamlining the regulatory architecture governing schemes of arrangements under Sections 230-232 of the Companies Act, 2013 (“Companies Act”) and Regulations 11, 37 and 94 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015 (“LODR”) involving listed companies with the introduction of the SEBI Circular dated March 17, 2017 (“SEBI Scheme Circular”). SEBI vide its Circular dated November 3, 2020 (“Amendment Circular”), has introduced further changes to the SEBI Scheme Circular. The Amendment Circular is brought into effect for all schemes of arrangement submitted to the Stock Exchanges on or after November 17, 2020. Changes introduced under the Amendment Circular are as follows:
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