Amendments to the ECB Policy - A Big Boost for Cross-Border Financings

Given prevailing market conditions, Indian corporates have increasingly been facing issues in accessing credit from onshore loan and debt capital markets. Recent Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regulations aimed at growing the debt capital market in India and reducing dependence of corporate India on loans from the Indian banking sector require that certain Indian companies must necessarily fund a specified percentage of their debt requirements by issuing bonds.

The forthcoming implementation of new norms on single and group exposures for the Indian banking system is also resulting in some of the larger corporates having to look at other options beyond their preferred relationship banks onshore for meeting their debt funding requirements. Both the non-banking sector and the mutual fund industry in India – significant sources for onshore debt markets – are also currently grappling with their own set of challenges. In this environment, these amendments to the External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) framework are most welcome as they will allow Indian companies to look at tapping the offshore loan and bond markets for raising debt capital.
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shares with differential voting rights - DVR

Since December, 2000, Indian companies have been permitted to issue ‘dual class shares’. This was when the concept of ‘shares with differential voting rights’[1] was introduced in the Companies Act, 1956. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has, since July 21, 2009[2], disallowed listed companies to issue shares with superior rights to voting or dividend. However, listed companies were permitted to issue shares with inferior (or fractional) voting rights.

In an apparent reversal of its policy position, SEBI in its board meeting on June 27, 2019, approved a framework for the listing of companies that have shares with superior voting rights, while disallowing any further issuance of shares for those with inferior voting rights.
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SEBI’s Latest Discussion Paper on Insider Trading Regulations

Prosecuting insider trading cases has always been a challenge for the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Primary evidence is difficult to come by, which impacts success rates as well as investigation timelines.

On June 10, 2019, SEBI released a discussion paper (Discussion Paper) proposing amendments to the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (Insider Trading Regulations) to establish systems and processes (both within listed companies, as well as, at SEBI) that incentivise individuals to report insider trading violations, if they come to their knowledge. In terms of the Discussion Paper, the informant may be rewarded up to INR 1 crore (approx. USD 150,000) if SEBI undertakes disgorgement of at least INR 5 crores (approx. USD 0.72 million) as a result of any action taken on the basis of true, credible and original information.
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SEBI’s Framework for Innovation Sandbox - Fintech

Amidst the fast-paced growth of the fintech industry in India, financial regulators in the country have been swift to recognise each such development and keep pace with the market. One particularly interesting development is the global adoption of regulatory sandboxes.

From 2016, a range of committees constituted by different financial regulators began to advocate adoption of regulatory sandboxes, drawing from success stories in other jurisdictions.[1] But 2019 marks a significant moment, as three of India’s prominent financial regulators have rolled-out either draft or final frameworks on regulatory sandboxes for fintech.[2]

The frameworks seek to spur fintech innovation in India and have been welcomed by all stakeholders alike. The framework released by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) adopts a particularly holistic approach towards regulation of many different aspects of a sandbox. In this post, we seek to critique the ‘Framework for Innovation Sandbox’, released by SEBI on May 20, 2019 (Sandbox Framework).
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Schemes and the Amendment to the Takeover Regulations

Schemes of arrangement have been a favoured route for corporates to acquire shares of listed companies, given the many obvious pros of acquisitions undertaken through a court/ National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) based scheme of arrangement. Schemes have also been used to undertake group level restructurings, a consequence of which could be the indirect transfer of shares of a listed company from one group company to another.

One of the biggest advantages of acquiring shares in, and/or control over, a listed company pursuant to a scheme of arrangement is that such an acquisition is exempt from the requirements of making a mandatory open offer under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations), subject to certain conditions being met.
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April 2019 – Dawn of a New Era in Indian Corporate Governance?

2018 was an eventful year for the corporate governance regulatory framework in India. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) not only approved a host of recommendations made by the Kotak Committee on Corporate Governance (Kotak Committee), but also gave these recommendations the required regulatory impetus by notifying the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) (Amendment) Regulations, 2018.

Come April 1, 2019, a slew of these amendments (Amendments) will come into effect and all listed entities will be required to ensure their readiness in terms of implementation and compliance. Broadly, the Amendments have four intended targets: the board of directors, the listed company, the investors and the promoters.


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Prohibition of Insider Trading Regulations 2015 in India , Amendments

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) ended the year with a bang by issuing a number of notifications on December 31, including the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) (Amendment) Regulations, 2018 (PIT Amendment Regulations). The PIT Amendment Regulations come into force on April 1, 2019 and will have significant impact on the manner in which listed companies and intermediaries navigate the market conduct framework.
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 Tender offers in India 2018

January to December 2018 was a more active year compared to 2017 for tender offers made under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations).

Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) saw a particularly high number of tender offers. These included tender offers for Tourism Finance Corporation of India Limited, Pranami Credits Limited and LKP Finance Limited. But while the NBFC space may have had the greatest number of tender offers, the highest tender offers in terms of size/value were in banking (IDBI Bank Limited), healthcare (Fortis Healthcare Limited), pharmaceuticals (Merck Limited), and cable & broadband (Hathway Cable and Datacom Limited and Den Networks Limited) sectors.
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Amendments to the SEBI Delisting Regulations – A Welcome Move

Pursuant to the discussion paper on delisting of equity shares floated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on July 26, 2018, SEBI has recently amended the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Delisting of Equity Shares) Regulations, 2009 (Delisting Regulations) and has accordingly notified the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Delisting of Equity Shares) (Second Amendment) Regulations, 2018 (Amended Delisting Regulations) on November 14, 2018. The aim of the amendment is to plug loopholes in the delisting process considering the interests of the promoters/acquirers and public shareholders.
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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”).
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