Mergers and Acquisitions

The year 2023 saw 85 public takeovers implemented through the tender offer route under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations). The number of takeovers were only slightly below the number of takeovers in CY22 (93 in all). The aggregate transaction size (i.e. the aggregate size of the negotiated deal and tender offer) of takeovers announced in CY23 was ₹274.27 billion, 77% lower than that of the takeovers announced in CY22, which was ₹1,180 billion. Primarily, the deal activity in CY23 was driven by domestic acquirers. Foreigners executed only three deals in this space (including only one deal by a PE player), which was substantially lower than CY22 (being 11 ).Continue Reading Public Takeovers in India: Flashback 2023

The ability to undertake corporate restructuring and M&A through private or statutory arrangements has served as a touchstone in deal making globally. Statutory arrangements, at times, offer several advantages over contractual/ private arrangements. There are, however, several commercial, legal and tax considerations that have to be considered before opting between a statutory and private arrangement. The speed and ease with which a business can undertake an arrangement also plays an important part in such decision-making. In India, private arrangement is more popular than statutory arrangement for undertaking M&A as the latter is contingent on receipt of regulatory authorisation. Statutory arrangements in India were initially permitted only by way of National Company Law Tribunal (“NCLT”) approval.Continue Reading Mergers on a Fast-Track

WOS Exemption

Context:

Ever since the stock market scam of 2001 (Ketan Parekh Scam) was brought to light, regulators have been vigilant about the use of complex corporate structures to circumvent statutory restrictions and divert company funds. After the magnitude of financial irregularities in the Ketan Parekh Scam came to light, the Joint Parliamentary Committee (“JPC”) and the erstwhile Department of Company Affairs (“DCA”) proposed steps to prevent  companies from using the ‘subsidiary route’ to siphon off funds, by providing inter-corporate loans.[1]Continue Reading The Layering Restrictions & WOS exemption – Need for Regulatory clarity

Mergers & Acquisitions

Introduction

While some Indian corporates have been bold acquirers in big-ticket overseas acquisitions, such transactions are rare, often complex, and risky. Indian acquirers have typically used internal accruals or resorted to overseas debt to finance offshore acquisitions due to regulatory restrictions preventing them from using their stock as consideration for the acquisition. Recent liberalisations in the overseas investment framework suggest that this constraint may be going away. While these regulatory changes may provide additional structuring options for cross-border M&A/ restructuring, decisions of certain tribunals on these (relatively recent) amendments may play spoilsport.Continue Reading Cross-Border Demergers: Navigating muddy waters

SEBI

Background

SEBI has been progressively tightening the regulatory regime surrounding transactions impacting listed entities – beginning with the implementation of the Kotak Committee recommendations on related party transactions (RPTs) through amendments to the LODR Regulations on May 9, 2018. Shortly thereafter, in November, 2019, SEBI constituted a Working Group (WG) to re-examine the RPT provisions of LODR Regulations, which resulted in the markets regulator notifying amendments on November 9, 2021, which took effect from April 01, 2022. These amendments brought about a paradigm shift by making the RPT approval and disclosure requirements applicable to listed companies in India very expansive and stringent.Continue Reading Proposed Amendments to LODR on Agreements Affecting Listed Companies – Swatting Flies with a Sledgehammer?

Takeover of Publicly Traded Companies Flashback 2022

It was a buzzing year for control deals in India. Year 2022 saw 93 control deals in the listed space, implemented through the tender offer route under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations)[1]. This marks the highest number of tender offers in the last five years.Continue Reading Takeover of Publicly Traded Companies: Flashback 2022

Payment System Operators New M&A Implications

Background:

On July 4, 2022, the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) clarified to all banks and non-bank payment system operators (“PSOs”) that its prior approval would be required for any (a) takeover/ acquisition of control, which may or may not result in change of management; and (b) sale/ transfer of payment activity to an entity not authorised for undertaking similar activity (“Circular”).Continue Reading FIG Paper (No. 15 – Series 1) – Payment System Operators (PSOs) – New M&A Implications

Flashback 2021

The year 2021 saw 81 tender offers aggregating to INR 43,602 crore for acquisition of shares of publicly traded companies in India under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations)[1]. This is higher in terms of both value and number when compared to the pandemic-hit 2020 and the pre-pandemic 2019. During this period, strategic players took centre-stage in driving deal activities, making 78 out of 81 tender offers.Continue Reading Takeover of Publicly Traded Companies: Flashback 2021

Benami Act

Introduction

Coinciding with the demonetisation of currencies by the Government of India in 2016, the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988, was substantially amended and renamed as the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 (“Benami Act”). The Benami Act was brought into effect from November 01, 2016. It was a well-timed move to ensure that demonetisation doesn’t become a futile exercise.Continue Reading Declarations of beneficial interest under the Companies Act vis-à-vis the Benami Act: No immunity and no “Ganga Snan”!

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!