Section 42 of the Companies Act, 2013 read with Rule 14 of the Companies (Prospectus and Allotment of Securities) Rules, 2014 are substantive provisions for regulating private placements by Indian companies. These provisions are, of course, in addition to applicable regulations prescribed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) for listed companies. Recently, both Section 42 and Rule 14 have undergone amendments by way of the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017 and the Companies (Prospectus and Allotment of Securities) Second Amendment Rules, 2018, respectively (the “Recent Amendments”). Continue Reading Recent Amendments to the Private Placement Guidelines – Revamp or Cosmetic?
On August 10, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) published a report (Report) of the High Level Committee under the Chairmanship of Justice A. R. Dave (Retd.) (Committee). The Report has made recommendations to revamp the SEBI (Settlement of Administrative and Civil Proceedings) Regulations, 2014 (Regulations).
As and when amended, this will mark the fourth avatar of the consent process, first introduced by SEBI through a circular way back in 2007 (remodelled substantially in 2012) and then reincarnated as delegated legislation in 2014. The Report has taken into account SEBI’s experience with this mechanism in the past few years as well as evolving market trends.
Last month, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) passed an order in favour of Factorial Master Fund (Factorial). This overturned the order of the SEBI Whole Time Member who had held that Factorial had contravened the provisions of the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (PIT Regulations) by trading in the securities of L&T Finance Holdings Limited (LTFH), while in possession of unpublished price sensitive information (UPSI).
Continue Reading The Sound of SEBI’s Silence: Will the Factorial Order Change the Rules of the Game?
From January 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018, the open offers launched under the SEBI Takeover Regulations for listed non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) constitute approximately 23.7% out of the total open offers during this period. In the calendar year 2018 (to May 31, 2018), the percentage of open offers for NBFCs out of the total open offers launched in this period is 23%, demonstrating significant interest in one particular sector in the listed space as opposed to others. As per our study, the following diagram illustrates the open offer activity from January 1, 2018 to May 31, 2018:
Attractiveness of NBFCs
NBFCs are an important alternative source of financing. Given that banks are prohibited from funding M&A transactions, NBFCs fit in perfectly. In addition to this, that there have been few positive developments in the past couple of years that have increased the attractiveness of NBFCs. In August 2016, the Government extended the applicability of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 to 196 systemically-important NBFCs to enable them to enforce security interest in relation to secured debt of Indian Rupees one crore or more.
Morning Mumbai mist, hot coffee and the 1986 song ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe is playing in the background – life seems blissful! And it was mostly so for the Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) industry. As we begin the run-up to Budget 2018, we look back at the milestones crossed in 2017 and the goalposts set for 2018 – and we focus on the key hits, misses and asks of the AIF industry.
2017: Key Highlights
- Investment by Banks in Category II AIFs: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) amended the Reserve Bank of India (Financial Services provided by Banks) Directions, 2016 permitting banks to invest in Category II AIFs up to a maximum cap of 10% corpus of such AIF. With Category II AIFs constituting nearly 50% of the total number of AIFs registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), this amendment sets the roadmap for channeling domestic savings into productive alternate assets and, at the same time, provides banks with the ability to earn a risk-adjusted return, thereby boosting the overall Return on Equity for its stakeholders.
Taking cue from Yoda, the adjudication officer of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has ordained “Do or do not, there is no try”. This means there can be no halfway compliance with SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012 and circulars issued therein (the AIF Regulations).
The November-end order of the SEBI Adjudicating officer (AO) in the case of the SREI Multiple Investment Trust (the Fund) not only provides an insight into the regulator’s interpretation of the AIF Regulations but it is also the first case of imposition of a monetary penalty for breach of the AIF Regulations. This article critically analyses the AO’s order and summarises the learnings from the same.
Image credit: Scroll.in, September 26, 2017
This is the second piece in our series entitled “Those Were the Days”, which is published monthly. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we have enjoyed putting this together.
This post deals with Securities Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) interpretation of the term “Unpublished Price Sensitive Information” (UPSI) arising from the alleged insider trading by Hindustan Lever Limited (now Hindustan Unilever Limited) (HLL) in its purchase of shares of Brooke Bond Lipton India Limited (BBLIL).
While the subject SEBI order employed provisions of the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 1992 (1992 Regulations), this post also analyses the relevant provisions of the subsequently notified SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (2015 Regulations) in relation the subject case.
Case Analysis: Hindustan Lever Limited v. SEBI
The facts of the case concerned the purchase by HLL of 8 lakh shares of BBLIL from the Unit Trust of India (UTI) on March 25, 1996. This purchase was made barely two weeks prior to a public announcement for a proposed merger of HLL with BBLIL.
The Early Years
With the creation of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 1992, the existence of the Controller of Capital Issues (CCI) which was overseeing Indian capital markets was rendered redundant. However, the pricing guidelines issued by the CCI (PG) assumed greater importance despite CCI’s redundancy, given India’s intent to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). This was especially as most FDI transactions were in the unlisted entity space whereas SEBI was regulating listed entities. As such, the PG formulated by the CCI became the guiding principle for various investments into India. As per Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stipulations, the fair value of shares (FV) to be issued/ transferred to non residents (NRs) was to be determined by a chartered accountant (CA), in accordance the PG formula laid down by the CCI.
The rationale behind these stipulations was to garner maximum value and forex for Indian shares and was resultant of the 1991 crisis on balance of payments faced by India. Principles laid down in Press Notes 18/ 1998 and 1/2005 were also aimed at strengthening Indian promoters. In so far as outgo of currency was concerned, regulatory supervision was exercised to ensure that such outflow would be heavily regulated and minimised. This mindset continued to operate in the new millennium even as substantial liberalisation of sectors took place (in the context of FDI) and even when the context changed from regulation of forex to maintenance thereof.
A Brief Conceptual Background
The discourse on corporate governance has been garnering considerable attention in the public domain in India, mainly due to the introduction of the Companies Act, 2013 (“Act”), the steps being taken by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) in promoting governance, and the escalating activism of shareholders and proxy advisory firms (“PAFs”) in the public markets.
The corporate governance regime in India has been implemented mostly reactively, thus far. One of the reasons could be the prevalence of the family-owned businesses in India which present a distinct and additional set of governance concerns such as safeguarding the interests of minority shareholders, the fiduciary duty (if any) of the promoter(s) to minority shareholders and the duties of the board of directors in conflict situations. As such, this feature may have effectively prevented Indian regulators from adopting the governance frameworks implemented in more evolved jurisdictions like the UK or the USA. Even Germany, where the corporate ecosystem is comprised of large family-owned businesses like India, could not have an appropriate reference point for Indian regulators, given the board structures there. To elaborate, German corporations have adopted a two-tier board structure whereby representation is mandatorily available to employees on the upper tier (supervisory) board. As such, this prevalence of family owned concerns could have been one of the reasons why the Indian corporate governance regime has largely remained prescriptive and reactive.
Over the last few years, there has been considerable debate in Indian corporate legal circles around the interpretation of the term ‘control’ as defined under the SEBI (SAST) Regulations, 2011 ( “Regulations”). To those unaware of this issue, the question, simply put, is this: if an investor seeks to invest in an Indian listed entity (“Target”) and as a part of its investment terms requests for and obtains, certain contractual rights that are not available to other shareholders of the Targets (“Special Rights”), would such Special Rights amount to acquisition of ‘control’ of the Target by the investor for the purposes of the Regulations? The genesis of such debate may owe its origins to conflicting definitions of ‘control’ by Indian courts and legislators or interpretations of ‘control’ by Indian regulators but that would not be the focus of the current post. Nonetheless, there is no exhaustive definition of ‘control’ and recognising its impact on deal making and M&A in the public space in India, India’s securities markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) in March of 2016 initiated the process to define ‘control’ by proposing certain bright line tests (“BLTs”).