RBI has issued a notification dated 16th July 2015 wherein it has done away with the 5% limit on the issue of shares under the Employees Stock Options Scheme or sweat equity shares to its employees who are resident outside India. Instead the company has to comply with all the applicable regulations of SEBI/ MCA / RBI in this regard.
The relevant portion of the said notification is reproduced below
On a review, it has been decided that an Indian company may issue “employees’ stock option” and/or “sweat equity shares” to its employees/directors or employees/directors of its holding company or joint venture or wholly owned overseas subsidiary/subsidiaries who are resident outside India, provided that :
- The scheme has been drawn either in terms of regulations issued under the Securities Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 or the Companies (Share Capital and Debentures) Rules, 2014 notified by the Central Government under the Companies Act 2013, as the case may be.
- The “employee’s stock option”/ “sweat equity shares” issued to non-resident employees/directors under the applicable rules/regulations are in compliance with the sectoral cap applicable to the said company.
- Issue of “employee’s stock option”/ “sweat equity shares” in a company where foreign investment is under the approval route shall require prior approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) of Government of India.
- Issue of “employee’s stock option”/ “sweat equity shares” under the applicable rules/regulations to an employee/director who is a citizen of Bangladesh/Pakistan shall require prior approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) of Government of India.
The issuing company is also required to furnish a return in form ESOP within 30 days of the issue to the RBI.