On May 23, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Board of India amended the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2018 to effect changes to the underwriting framework applicable to public offerings. Essentially, the SEBI amendment mandates that if an issuer making a public offering through the book-built route desires to have the offering underwritten to cover any under-subscription (referred to as hard underwriting), it is required to enter into an underwriting agreement with the underwriters upfront and prior to filing the red herring prospectus and make necessary disclosures of the underwriters’ commitment in the RHP. This note discusses the key changes made by SEBI to the regulations governing hard underwriting in book-built public offerings in India.
Category: Legal Updates
Changes to the Competition Act, 2002
The Competition (Amendment) Act, 2023, which seeks to amend certain provisions of the Competition Act, 2002 received the assent of the President of India on April 11, 2023. This note provides an overview of the key changes to the Competition Act provided in the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2023.
InvIT and REIT Regulations: Recent Amendments
This note provides an overview of the amendments that were issued on February 14, 2023 by the Securities and Exchange Board of India to the SEBI (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014 and the SEBI (Real Estate Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014. The amendments primarily introduce governance-related requirements for investment managers of InvITs and REITs and apply to all InvITs and REITs, including those proposing to register or list. The amendments also include certain requirements with respect to the appointment of auditors of InvITs and REITs, limited review of the accounts of assets of InvITs and REITs and the treatment of unclaimed distributions. Clarifications in relation to the calculation of leverage thresholds and the definition of change in control under the regulations are also part of the amendments. The governance norms and the clarifications to the definition of change in control are effective from April 1, 2023 and the other provisions are effective immediately.
Competition Amendment Bill, 2022: Key Changes to the Competition Act, 2002
On August 5, 2022, the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 (the “Bill”), to amend the Competition Act, 2002 (the “Competition Act”), was introduced in the Indian Parliament. The timing of approval of the Bill, and its coming into effect, is uncertain at present. The Bill introduces certain new concepts into the field of Indian competition law, including Deal Value Thresholds, the changes to the definition of ‘control’, and mechanisms to settle certain violations of the Competition Act. It also provides for practical and much-needed updates to the Indian competition law regime, including relaxations for implementation of stock exchange purchases, proposed publication of guidelines for fines, and reduction of timeframes for the Competition Commission of India’s approval. This note provides detailed description of the changes proposed by the Bill.
The PVR-INOX Merger: Bouncing Back from the Pandemic
On March 27, 2022, PVR Limited announced that it proposes to merge with INOX Leisure Limited. The combined entity will be rebranded as ‘PVR INOX’ and will have a network of 1,546 theatres. Ordinarily, a deal of such magnitude would have required prior approval from the Competition Commission of India, however the decreased revenue of the parties owing to the pandemic appears to have provided a unique benefit to this deal. This note analyzes the market positions of PVR and INOX, the role of the CCI, and the target based exemption that is applicable to this deal.
CCI Suspends Approval for Amazon-Future Deal
By way of an order dated December 17, 2021, the Competition Commission of India (“CCI”) has fined Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC (“Amazon”) an amount of INR 200 crore for suppression of facts in its application to the CCI for approval of its proposed acquisition of 49% of the shares of Future Coupons Private Limited (the “Amazon Acquisition”). The CCI has also directed Amazon to file a fresh application for approval of the Amazon Acquisition and stated that until disposal of the fresh application to be filed by Amazon, the earlier approval order of the CCI shall “remain in abeyance”.
This note analyses this decision of the CCI, including the basis for the CCI’s suspension of its approval and Amazon’s internal material considered by the CCI.
Supreme Court of India Clarifies ‘What is Arbitrable’ under Indian Law and Provides Guidance to Forums in Addressing the Question
In the recent spate of amendments to the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 (the “Arbitration Act”), one issue remained overlooked – whether a particular dispute can be referred to arbitration or whether such dispute is exclusively reserved for adjudication by a court. For almost a decade, the sole guidance to courts deciding this question was the test formulated by the Supreme Court of India (the “Supreme Court”) in Booz Allen and Hamilton Inc v. SBI Home Finance Ltd. & Others (2011) 5 SCC 532 (“Booz-Allen Test”). However a closer look at the rulings of the Supreme Court over the last few years reveal that the Booz-Allen Test has failed to withstand the test of time – the ‘nature of rights’ principle on which the test is predicated has been found inadequate to conclusively determine the question of arbitrability. Recently, the Supreme Court revisited this question in Vidya Drolia & Others v. Durga Trading Corporation 2019 SCCOnLine SC 358 (“Vidya Drolia”) and proposed a four-fold test to determine arbitrability under Indian law. The Supreme Court also issued guidance to forums adjudicating this issue.
COVID-19: Suspension of Insolvency Proceedings in India
On June 5, 2020, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 was amended to inter-alia prohibit creditors and corporate debtors from initiating corporate insolvency resolution proceedings in respect of defaults arising during the six (6) month period from and including March 25, 2020 (the date of commencement of the national lockdown) – this period may be extended up to one (1) year.
COVID-19: Temporary Easing of SEBI Fund-raising Rules
With a view to facilitate fund-raising from the capital markets in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Securities and Exchange Board of India has decided to grant certain relaxations from the provisions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2018, as amended, to public issues (both initial and further public offerings) and rights issues. The relaxations, which are contained in two separate SEBI circulars each dated April 21, 2020, essentially relate to (i) the validity of the SEBI observations, (ii) the requirement to file a fresh draft offer document in case of change in issue size and (iii) certain conditions applicable to rights issues.
COVID-19: Changes to India’s FDI Regime
In a significant move, the Indian Government has, in a bid to curb opportunistic takeovers of Indian companies as a result of COVID-19, directed that all investments from countries that share land borders with India will require prior regulatory approval. This change covers both direct and indirect investments and comes in the wake of recent acquisitions and exploration of investment opportunities by Chinese investors in India, scrutiny by the Indian securities regulator of Chinese ownership of portfolio investors and the introduction of stricter FDI regimes worldwide.