Since the introduction of the concept of independent directors, it has been perceived as an easy remedy to poor corporate governance. Their efficacy in effectively monitoring company management is often taken at face value. Studying recent instances of corporate governance lapses provides an insight into the efficacy of independent directors. To plug gaps, regulators constantly strive to raise the bar on the relevant criteria for determining the independence, and the procedure for the appointment, of independent directors. However, the changes affected do not appear to address the problem at hand. In the United States, unlike in India, shareholders have often pursued derivative claims against independent directors. While these derivative actions are not always successful, they function as an additional check on independent directors’ actions. Derivative actions are also pursued by shareholders in India. However, they: (a) are rarely pursued against independent directors; and (b) typically arise out of situations where directors have committed a fraud on the shareholders rather than when they have simply failed to perform their duties. For independent directors in India to function as an effective check on management, the threat of shareholder action needs to be a real one.
The need for addressing Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) related aspects, has never had more prominence than now. There is growing recognition of the financial and economic impacts of ESG risks across the globe and the investors are increasingly relying on ESG as an important metric to guide their investment decisions. Internationally, regulators and enforcement agencies are taking greater cognizance of ESG related issues and a more stringent view of non-compliances or greenwashing by any business regarding their ESG credentials. The impact of climate change, requirement of good governance and protection of interest of various stakeholders are increasingly forming part of various formal and informal dialogues, particularly in the post COVID era. At the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (“COP-26”) held in Glasgow, United Kingdom, India, along with 196 other countries made enhanced commitments towards mitigating the risks associated with climate change. The recent legal developments have demonstrated that the regulatory landscape for ESG in India has developed at a measured but regular pace and the Indian regulatory authorities are now catching up on the ESG trends that have been ongoing at a global level. With so much being said and done in relation to ESG on a day-to-day basis, it is sometimes difficult to focus on the real issue. This note aims to explain the concept of ESG and provides a brief overview of the Indian regulatory landscape in relation to ESG.
The rise of the digital sector has presented unique challenges for Indian regulatory authorities, including the Competition Commission of India (“CCI”), thanks to significant differences in the way such markets operate compared to traditional markets. There is growing demand, worldwide and in India, to hold digital platforms responsible and accountable for adverse impacts caused by them. A preliminary step involved in such probes is that of defining a ‘relevant market’ within which such digital platforms operate. This note analyzes the CCI’s approach on defining a ‘relevant market’ in the digital sector so far, and the need of the hour in terms of considering all substitutable and interchangeable products or services while defining such markets.
India has witnessed a significant increase in institutional shareholder activism over the past few years. As a consequence of the rapid rise in shareholder activism, there has been much greater focus on the rights of minority shareholders in relation to a company. In this context, the judgment of the division bench of the Bombay High Court on March 22, 2022 in Invesco Developing Markets Fund v. Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited addresses two key issues: (i) the statutory right of shareholders to call a shareholders’ meeting and (ii) the appropriate judicial forum for such shareholder disputes.
By an order issued on January 14, 2022, the United States District Court, Northern District of California allowed the Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to proceed on the misappropriation theory of insider trading in its “shadow trading” complaint against Matthew Panuwat. The SEC had alleged that Panuwat used confidential information about the acquisition of his employer, Medivation, to buy options in another publicly traded company and Medivation’s peer, Incyte. This note discusses the circumstances in which trading in securities of a company while in possession of information related to another company may be considered a violation of the Indian Insider Trading Regulations.
We are pleased to announce that Sumit Bansal has joined S&R Associates as a retained partner. Sumit will lead the Firm’s tax practice and is based in the New Delhi office.
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.
With the recent expansion of the IPL to include two new teams, CVC Capital Partners, a leading international private equity firm, acquired the Ahmedabad franchise – this is the first instance of a significant private equity investment in professional sports in India. We discuss the opportunities and potential challenges that lie ahead for private equity investment in sports franchises in the attached note.
With the continuing focus on digitisation accelerated by Covid lockdowns and rising demand for sustainability and green goals, there is an increase in activity relating to data centres for operators and investors as well as policymakers and regulators. In order to attract investment in data centres in India with a vision “to make India a global data centre hub”, the new Government policies intend to provide various incentives and exemptions to promote data centre industry growth. In the recent past, several multinational and domestic companies have set up data centres in India. Given the focus on data localization, there appears to be significant potential for growth for the data centres industry. In this background, the Government’s move to grant ‘infrastructure’ status to data centres and introduce a national data centre policy are welcome measures which will promote investments in data centres in India. In addition, two other policy initiatives announced in the budget speech which are expected to incentivize data centre investments are the 5G spectrum auction and the widening footprint of optical fibre.
We are pleased to announce that Swapneil Akut has joined S&R Associates as counsel based in the Firm’s Mumbai office, and is joined by associate Taneesh Shah.