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Sebi board to discuss IPO safety net; minimum public holding

Last Updated: Sunday, January 13, 2013 - 12:31

New Delhi: Market regulator Sebi's board will discuss this week safeguarding a part of funds invested by small investors in IPOs, as also the steps required for dealing with the promoters failing to comply with minimum public shareholding in listed companies.

The board of Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) is scheduled to meet on January 18, wherein it may also discuss two high-profile corporate cases -- one involving refund of investors' money by Sahara group and the other about Reliance Industries' appeal against its decision on settlement of cases through consent mechanism, a senior official said.

Mukesh Ambani-led RIL has approached Securities Appellate Tribunal against Sebi with regard to the regulator's decision to reject its plea to settle an alleged insider trading case through consent mechanism.

Under the consent mechanism, the ongoing investigations by Sebi can be settled after payment of certain charges and the ill-gotten gains, if any, without admission or denial of wrongdoings by the concerned entities. However, Sebi changed its consent framework regulations in May 2012, pursuant to which it found many applications, including those of RIL, unsuitable for settlement through this mechanism.

RIL's appeal before SAT was earlier scheduled for January 3, which was first adjourned till January 11 and thereafter to January 24 after Sebi sought time to study the petition.

In Sahara case, Sebi has been asked by the Supreme Court to facilitate refund of thousands of crores of money collected by two group companies from close to three crore bondholders.

While Sebi will update its board about these two cases at the next meeting, it is expecting an approval to the final norms for a proposed 'mandatory safety net mechanism' in IPOs, on which it floated a discussion paper in September and had sought public comments till October 31, 2012.

Besides, Sebi would also discuss the issues surrounding the deadline for meeting minimum public shareholding of 25 percent by the private sector companies by June 2013 and that of 10 percent by PSUs by August this year.

Promoters of nearly 190 companies are yet to bring down their shareholding to desired level to meet the guidelines, although Sebi has already provided various options to meet these guidelines. Sebi board may discuss further steps needed for helping the companies meet the norms, as also the measures to be taken against the non-compliant entities.

Under the proposed 'safety net' norms, Sebi has said that the companies making initial public offers could be asked to mandatorily refund the money to small retail Indian investors, if the price of the shares plunge by more than 20 percent within three months of listing.

The safety net would be applicable for those resident retail individual allottees applying for shares worth up to Rs 50,000, while the total obligation on the companies would be capped at 5 percent of the IPO size.

Further, the 20 percent fall in share price would be considered over and above the general fall, if any, in one of the two broader market indices, BSE-500 or S&P CNX 500.

The proposal was first discussed by Sebi's board on August 16, but it was felt that a wider public discussion was needed.

The proposal is aimed at helping boost the investor sentiments, as also to help bring sanity in IPO pricing by the companies and their merchant bankers. It has been proposed that the companies can pass on the liability for 'safety net' payments to their merchant bankers.

Sebi mooted the proposal after it found that the shares were trading below their public offer price even after six months of listing in more than 60 percent cases, while the decline was of more than 20 percent in a majority of IPOs.


First Published: Sunday, January 13, 2013 - 12:31
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