Increasing the role and relevance of ‘Proxy Advisory Firms’ in corporate governance

Until very recently, the recommendations of proxy advisory firms did not impact companies much, as it did not have the power to influence or fail/ stop a resolution from being passed. However now, the recommendations of proxy advisory firms are becoming increasingly relevant given that many institutional investors are basing their positions while voting on resolutions on such advice. This is evidenced from the fact that a proxy advisory firms have recently managed to prevent a resolution for granting employee stock options to employees of a group entity of a very large Indian bank from being passed due to the absence of “any compelling reasons”.[1] In another interesting case, a proxy advisory firm came very close to preventing a resolution pertaining to an increase in the remuneration of a director from being passed on account of this increase being “skewed” and “guaranteed”.[2]Continue Reading Impact of Proxy Advisory Firms: Turning tides and failing resolutions

ESOP Has SEBI Put an End to ‘Sell All’ Method of Cashless Exercise

Employee stock options are frequently used as an employee incentivisation and retention tool, given the benefit accrued over time. An ESOP-wrapped compensation is attractive because the gains from the shares acquired on exercise of employee stock options are much higher than the exercise price paid for the options. While the maximum or minimum price payable on exercise of the options is not prescribed by the law – which only lays down the requirement for the price to be accounting-standard compliant –  the price typically ranges from the face value of the share to the fair market value of the share.Continue Reading ESOP: Has SEBI Put an End to ‘Sell All’ Method of Cashless Exercise?

Role of IFSC in the Indian SPAC Dream

In part 2 of this series of blogs (Key Features IFSC Lisiting Regulations in Relation to Listing of SPACs), we touched upon the newly-introduced framework for the issuance and listing of special purpose acquisition companies (“SPACs”) at the International Financial Services Centres (“IFSC”) under the International Financial Services Centres Authority (Issuance and Listing of Securities) Regulations, 2021 (“IFSC Listing Regulations”). In this part of the blog we are going to look at the IFSC Listing Regulations with a critical eye to detect the gaps that continue to exist despite the framework being put in place and identify areas that can be improved upon to leverage the unique status of entities in IFSC.Continue Reading Role of IFSC in the Indian SPAC Dream: An Overview – Part 3

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?