Pursuant to a board meeting of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) held on September 30, 2022 (“Press Release”), a series of reforms and amendments were enforced by SEBI.
A summary of the key reforms and amendments are as follows:
- Introduction of pre-filing of offer document as an optional alternative mechanism for the purpose of initial public offer on the main board of stock exchanges
SEBI has approved the proposal of a pre-filing mechanism of offer documents as an alternative to the existing mechanism of filing offer documents, in relation to initial public offers on the main board of the stock exchanges.
SEBI pursuant to its “Consultation Paper on Pre-filing of Offer Document in case of Initial Public Offerings” (“Consultation Paper”), discussed the concerns of the issuer companies proposing to raise funds by an initial public offer (“IPO”), including disclosure of sensitive information in the draft red herring prospectus, which may be beneficial to competitors of such issuer companies, without the certainty that the IPO would be executed.
In terms of the Consultation Paper, issuer companies will have the option under the pre-filing mechanism to file the draft red herring prospectus with SEBI and stock exchanges, without making it available for public, for an initial scrutiny period only (“Confidential Filing”). SEBI will provide its observations on the Confidential Filing. In the event the issuer company proposes to undertake the IPO, an updated draft red herring prospectus after incorporating the comments received from SEBI on the Confidential Filing (“UDRHP I”) will be filed with the SEBI and stock exchanges and will also be made available for public comments for at least 21 days.
The issuer company will be required to file a further updated documents with the SEBI and stock exchanges incorporating (a) comments received from the public; and (b) any regulatory or factual updates in UDRHP I, as applicable (such document, “UDRHP 2”). Pursuant to SEBI taking note of changes in the UDRHP-II, the issuer company may file the Red Herring Prospectus (“
RHP”) with Registrar of Companies (“RoC”), stock exchange(s) and SEBI.
While SEBI pursuant to its Press Release has approved the proposal of pre-filing of offer document, the finalised framework for pre-filing mechanism of offer documents is yet to be notified by SEBI, based on comments received on the Consultation Paper. Further, while the consultation paper clearly specified that marketing of the IPO can only be undertaken post UDRHP-1 filing, a clarification on the same is pending from SEBI.
- Monitoring of utilization of issue proceeds raised through preferential issue and qualified institutions placement (QIP) issue, in terms of SEBI (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2018 (“SEBI ICDR Regulations”)
SEBI has approved the proposal to introduce monitoring of utilization of issue proceeds raised through preferential issues and qualified institutions placement (QIP), with credit rating agencies as monitoring agencies, for issues of size above Rs. 100 crores. This will enable shareholders to stay abreast of and keep a track on the status of the utilization of funds raised by the company as against the disclosed objective of utilization of funds. Further, since monitoring of the utilization of proceeds is required for all pubic and rights issue with an issue size of above Rs 100 crores, this reform has now aligned the requirement of monitoring of utilization of proceeds with that of the public and rights issues, which we feel is a positive step towards attaining overall investor protection.
- Disclosure of key performance indicators (“KPIs”) and price per share of the issuer, in public issues, based on past transactions and past fund raising from the investors
Issuers proposing to raise funds by IPOs will now have to disclose the (i) KPIs, and (ii) price per share of the issuer company, based on past transactions and past fund raising done by it from investors prior to IPO (“Pre-IPO Fund Raising”), under the ‘Basis for Issue Price’ section of the offer document, as well as in the price band advertisement to be issued by the issuer company in terms of the SEBI ICDR Regulations.
In relation to the Pre-IPO Fund Raising, SEBI has specified that the price per share of the issuer company based on primary or new issue of shares and based on secondary sale / acquisition of shares, during the 18 months period prior to the IPO will have to be disclosed and in case there are no such transactions during the 18 months period prior to IPO, then information for price per share of the issuer company would have to disclosed based on last five primary or secondary transactions done within three years of the IPO. Further, the weighted average cost of acquisition (“WACA”) based on primary/ secondary transaction(s) and ratio of WACA vis-à-vis IPO floor price and cap price will have to be disclosed in the offer documents and in the price band advertisement.
A committee of the independent directors of the issuer company will also have to provide a justification on the price band based on quantitative factors/ KPIs vis-à-vis the WACA of primary issuance and secondary transaction(s).
While this amendment is a step in the right direction, there are certain points which may need clarity from SEBI. For instance, in relation to disclosure of price per share of the issuer company, SEBI in its consultation paper dated February 18, 2022, clearly specified that Pre-IPO Fund Raising of both equity shares and convertible shares would have to be considered for calculating the price per share of the issuer company. However, basis the Press Release, we are unable to ascertain whether the issuance of both convertible securities and equity shares would have to be considered for the calculation of the aforesaid parameter.
- Amendments to the Listing Regulations in re appointment and removal of independent directors
In terms of Regulation 25 (2A) of the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015 (“Listing Regulations”), the appointment, re-appointment or removal of an independent director of a listed entity, shall be subject to the approval of shareholders by way of a special resolution. Further, in accordance with the Section 149 (10) of the Companies Act, 2013, no independent director shall hold office for more than two consecutive terms.
SEBI by way of its Press Release has provided flexibility in the approval process for appointment and / or removal of independent directors by approving an alternate method for the appointment and removal of independent directors appointed for the first term
If the special resolution for appointment of an independent director is unable to attain the requisite majority, under alternative method, such independent director will be deemed to be duly appointed if following thresholds are met:
- Threshold for an ordinary resolution in terms of the Companies Act, 2013;
- Threshold for majority of minority shareholders.
The aforesaid thresholds would similarly be applicable for the removal of an independent director appointed under this alternate mechanism.
Further, while SEBI in its “Consultation Paper on Review of Regulatory Provisions related to Independent Directors” dated March 1, 2021, has defined “minority shareholders” as shareholders, other than the promoter and promoter group, we await clarification on the exact scope and meaning of “minority shareholders”.
This blog is authored by Capital Markets team.
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