Innovative Constructions

Innovative Constructions: Assessing the Investment Viability of New Construction Technologies

Every year, Indians require 10 million new homes. At the same time, global markets are increasingly focused on sustainability, climate change and ESG-related goals. The confluence of such factors has created various opportunities to employ climate-responsive construction techniques, including through the use of eco-friendly and sustainable material. Relatedly, the interplay of energy-efficient solutions, green-certified buildings, targeted investments and financing, key legislative changes, government incentives and a coordinated regulatory framework, as well as increased digitalization, may change this ecosystem in fundamental ways.


Modifications to Schemes of Arrangement

Modifications to Schemes of Arrangement

Once a scheme of arrangement has been approved by its shareholders or the relevant National Company Law Tribunal, what, if any, modifications are permissible to the scheme of arrangement without seeking fresh shareholder approval?

This note considers the legal framework for modifications to approved schemes of arrangement. It also examines the proposed merger of Zee Entertainment with Sony Pictures India where this question potentially arises for consideration.


Carbon credits in India

Carbon Credits: An Overview

The idea of carbon credits, including the establishment of a market for such credits, has generated significant global attention in recent years. While this idea is not new, it has become especially important today to understand what such credits entail and how these can benefit businesses – given the worldwide momentum towards ESG-related goals.
Carbon market transactions involve the purchase of emission rights from entities which have the technical and/or economic ability to reduce emissions. India’s Carbon Credit Trading Scheme, 2023 defines a ‘carbon credit’ to mean a value assigned to a reduction, removal or avoidance of emitted greenhouse gases amounting to one metric ton of CO2 or its equivalent. Accordingly, certificates may be issued by the government under the newly amended Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
In regulated carbon markets, each registered/obligated entity may be allotted a certain number of credits. Those that produce fewer emissions than the number of credits issued by the government (or an authorized agency) may enjoy a surplus. Conversely, companies with older and/or less efficient operations may generate more emissions than their credit allocation. The latter category may then look to buy credits to balance their emissions, including on account of a regulatory mandate.
This exchange between buyers and sellers will establish the market price. If it is cheaper for an emitter to trade in, rather than control, emissions, they can buy credits. Those that find it feasible to reduce emissions at a cost less than the market price can sell. Emissions trading can thus transform the right to emit a pollutant into a tradable good and create economic incentives for reduction.


Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements

SEBI Tightens Governance Norms for Listed Entities

On June 14, 2023, the SEBI tightened governance requirements for listed entities by amending the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015. One of the key changes brought about by the SEBI is to the disclosure regime under Regulation 30 of the LODR Regulations, which will become effective on July 14, 2023. This note discusses these changes and their implications.


SEBI Listing Regulations

Recent Amendments to the SEBI Listing Regulations: Additional Disclosure of Agreements and Special Rights to Shareholders

On June 14, 2023, the SEBI introduced certain amendments to the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, including in relation to disclosure of agreements entered into by or in relation to listed companies and approval by shareholders for special rights granted to shareholders.
While the amendments aim to create a more robust compliance framework and increase transparency and accountability of listed entities, they are likely to lead to additional compliance burden for listed entities and reduce flexibility to shareholders to enter into inter-se arrangements.


Navigating BRSR

Navigating BRSR: Concerns and Opportunities  

In February, SEBI released a consultation paper on disclosures, ratings, and investing related to ESG, pursuant to which an assurance-driven reporting regime based on key ESG attributes (“BRSR Core”) may be introduced soon.
BRSR Core is intended to represent a focused subset of the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (“BRSR”) framework, which SEBI had introduced in May 2021 as a voluntary disclosure regime in lieu of the erstwhile Business Responsibility Reporting (“BRR”) paradigm. The main motivation behind introducing the BRSR framework was to ensure quantitative, standardized disclosures on ESG-linked parameters. While until FY 21-22, the top 1,000 listed companies in India by market capitalization could make disclosures under this framework on a voluntary basis, such disclosures are compulsory from FY 22-23.
This article provides an overview of category-wise BRSR compliance requirements.  Further, it highlights some of the benefits and opportunities, along with potential legal risks, associated with such disclosures. The article also discusses some of the concerns and innovations related to the BRSR Core framework, including in light of SEBI’s proposals with respect to adjusting intensity ratios for country-level purchasing power parity and extending disclosure requirements to corporate supply chains.


InvIT and REIT Regulations

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.


Power Purchase Agreements

The Promise of ‘Virtual’ Power Purchase Agreements

In the US and elsewhere, ‘virtual’ power purchase agreements (VPPAs) have appealed to a wide variety of corporate buyers, including for the purpose of meeting renewable energy (RE) targets quickly. Further, compliance with ‘green’ mandates by procuring renewables through a VPPA has become an important element of business branding across the world. With regard to India, too, recent reports suggest that VPPAs are essential to meet corporate needs and wants, particularly in the country’s expanding commerce and industry (C&I) segment.
However, in response to investor demand with respect to environment, social, and governance (ESG) standards, if a company seeks to shift completely to RE, it may not be able to do so for various reasons, including on account of inherent risks in RE generation. Further, ‘physical’ PPAs are not viable for projects below a logistical minimum. Accordingly, C&I consumers with lower load requirements and/or fragmented demand may not yet have a cost-effective mechanism to procure RE, despite India’s newly democratized ‘open access’ regime. In this regard, VPPAs may still be the answer.
Nevertheless, given that your company needs/wants to acquire or generate RE – should, and can, you enter into a VPPA in India?


Power Purchase Agreements

The Continued Rise of Renewable Corporate PPAs in India

‘Corporate’ Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) – as opposed to traditional models of energy procurement by state-owned electricity distribution companies – have proliferated over the past few years. With respect to renewable energy (RE) in particular, India appears to have witnessed one of the largest spikes in the world. Why are so many corporate PPAs getting signed here? Why now, and why specifically with respect to RE? Will this trend continue, and if so, what are the things to look out for? This note seeks to address such questions, including in light of recent (and anticipated) legislative and regulatory developments.


ESG rating providers

Regulation of ESG Rating Providers in India

ESG ratings and third-party data products have played an important role in the ESG ecosystem so far, especially in the absence of consistent and comparable issuer disclosures. Even though investors are increasingly relying on the ESG ratings to determine a company’s performance on ESG issues and to gauge the ESG related risks, the current rating systems have low reliability due to the lack of transparency and inconsistency in rating methodologies. To address these deficiencies, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (“IOSCO”) tabled a report on ESG Ratings and Data Products Providers (“IOSCO Report”), encouraging individual jurisdictions to adopt a global reporting baseline for investor oriented ESG rating system. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) has released a consultation paper dated January 24, 2022, on ESG Rating Providers for Securities Markets (“Consultation Paper”) taking into account the recommendations made to the regulators in the IOSCO Report. This note aims at understanding the concept of ESG ratings and the need for their regulation. This note further explains (i) the issues in the current system of ESG ratings being provided by ERPs as identified by SEBI in its Consultation Paper; and (ii) the framework being proposed in the Consultation Paper to develop a legal regime for regulation of ERPs in India.