Category Archives: securities laws

fee structure for DP in IFSC

IFSCA circular dated 27th July, 2021 laying down fee structure for setting up a Depository Participant in the IFSC GIFT City.

  1. The depository participants have been permitted to operate in GIFT-IFSC in terms of the applicable provisions under SEBI (International Financial Services Centres) Guidelines, 2015, as amended from time to time.
  2. The fee structure for Depository Participants in GIFT-IFSC shall be as follows:
    i. Application fee of USD 500 at the time of application for registration;
    ii. Registration fee of USD 2,500;
    iii. Fee of USD 2,500 every five years post registration.
  3. The fees shall be remitted to the following account of IFSCA:
    Account Name: International Financial Services Centres Authority
    Account Number: 970105000174
    Type of Account: USD Current Account
    SWIFT Code: ICICINBBIBU
    NOSTRO Details: BOFAUS3N, Bank of America, N.A., New York Branch, A/c no: 6550491848

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schemes filed by AMCs – timelines

SEBI circular dated 23rd July, 2021 wherein they have specified that if SEBI does not suggest modification or review in any scheme documents filed by mutual funds, within 21 days, then it will be deemed as approved. Read on .

In order to promote ease of doing business and bring uniformity in the timelines for processing of scheme related applications filed by AMCs, the following has been decided:

  1. The application filed by AMCs for the following matters may be deemed to be taken on record in case no modifications are suggested or no queries are raised by SEBI within 21 working days:
     Change in the Fundamental Attributes of a scheme
     Merger/Consolidation of Schemes
     Rollover of Close-ended schemes
     Conversion of Close-ended scheme to Open ended scheme
  2. In respect of applications filed by AMCs under Regulation 24 (b) of SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, no objection will have been deemed to be communicated in case no modifications are suggested or no queries are raised by SEBI within 21 working days.
  3. The timelines mentioned at para 1 and 2 above shall generally be adhered to (a) provided the application is complete in all respects and in compliance with all the relevant Regulations and circulars issued by SEBI. (b) except in cases where subject matter of approval requires a policy view to be taken or presents a unique situation which requires wider
    consultation and deliberation.
  4. The circular shall be applicable for all the applications received on or after September 01, 2021.

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inter operable platform for MF investors

SEBI has vide its circular dated 26th July, 2021 mandated the setting up of an inter operable platform for the mutual fund investors, where in one site they are able to view everything related to their mutual fund investments as well carry out transactions therein, instead of navigating to multiple sites. Salient features are :

  1. RTAs shall implement standardized practices, system interoperability amongst themselves to jointly develop a common industry wide platform that will deliver an integrated, harmonized, elevated experience to the investors across the
    industry. AMCs and Depositories shall facilitate the RTAs for development of the proposed platform.
  2. The aforesaid platform shall, inter alia in phases, enable a user-friendly interface for investors for execution of mutual fund transactions viz. purchase, redemption, switch etc., initiation and tracking of service requests viz. change of email id / contact number / bank account details etc., initiation and tracking of queries and complaints, access investment related reports viz. mutual fund holdings (both in demat and standard Statement of Account), transactions reports (including historic transactions), capital gains/loss report, details of unclaimed dividend/redemption etc. Through this platform, investors will be able to access these services for all Mutual Funds in an integrated manner. In this regard,
    AMCs, RTAs and Depositories shall take necessary measures to provide data via APIs on a real time basis to the proposed platform. Additionally, RTAs and Depositories shall also share their respective data feeds between themselves for generation of investment related reports.
  3. The platform may also over time, provide services to the distributors, registered investment advisors, AMCs, Stock Exchange platforms and digital platforms for transacting in mutual funds to further augment ease of investing and servicing of investors through the above stakeholders in consultation with SEBI.
  4. AMCs, RTAs and Depositories shall review and agree to harmonize the processes across the industry to provide a single-window, integrated, simplified investment and service experience for the investors.
  5. AMCs, RTAs, and Depositories shall adopt the data definitions and standards as provided / recommended by SEBI for data exchange amongst various participants.
  6. The Platform should be scalable with robust cyber security protocols and supported through an API-based architecture. In this regard, the platform shall adopt the Cyber Security and Cyber Resilience framework specified by SEBI from time to time to “MIIs” (Market Infrastructure Institutions such as Stock Exchanges, Depositories and Clearing Corporations) and “Qualified RTAs” (QRTAs). Further, on request basis, APIs could be exposed to other industry
    stakeholders such as distributors, registered investment advisors, Stock Exchange platforms and digital platforms etc. with due approval of the concerned Mutual Fund on mutually agreed terms.
  7. The RTAs are jointly and severally responsible for compliance with all the applicable regulations including system audit and cyber security audit. Further, RTAs shall ensure that the platform complies with the guidelines for Business
    Continuity Plan (BCP) and Disaster Recovery (DR) specified by SEBI from time to time to “MIIs”.
  8. All the stakeholders are advised to collaborate and work together towards the development and implementation of the proposed investor-friendly platform.
  9. AMCs and Depositories shall facilitate and RTAs shall make the aforesaid platform operational in a phased manner (starting with non-financial transactions) and shall be fully operational by December 31, 2021.
  10. AMCs, RTAs, Depositories, AMFI and key stakeholders are advised to create awareness about this initiative amongst the investors.
  11. Any RTA providing its services to Mutual Fund(s), subsequent to issuance of this circular, shall follow the guidelines specified in this circular or amendments thereto as may be intimated by SEBI from time to time.

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AIFs in IFSC

Circular issued by IFSCA dated 25th June, 2021 allowing further relaxations in AIF operations in IFSC. The salient features are as follows:

A. Continuing interest by the Manager or Sponsor in the AIF
In order to facilitate relocation of funds established or incorporated or registered outside India to IFSC, the continuing interest requirement by the Manager or Sponsor in the AIF provided under para 8 of the Annexure to the operating guidelines for AIFs in IFSC dated November 26, 2018 shall be voluntary.
B. Investment in Mutual Fund
An AIF in IFSC is permitted to invest in units of schemes launched by mutual fund regulated in FATF compliant jurisdiction (including India).

https://ifsca.gov.in/Viewer/Index/192

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merchant bankers in IFSC

IFSCA has vide its circular dated 25th June, 2021 laid down the fee structure for merchant bankers to operate in IFSC.

They are as follows:

a)Application fee of USD 1,000;

b)One-time registration fee of USD 25,000 for new registration;

c)Fee of USD 25,000 every three years post registration.

https://ifsca.gov.in/Viewer/Index/191

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overseas investment limits for MFs

SEBI has vide its circular dated 3rd June, 2021 enhanced the overseas investment limits for mutual funds as follows:

  1. they can make overseas investments subject to a maximum of US$1 billion per mutual fund subject to an industry limit of USD$7 billion;
  2. in overseas exchange traded fund, they can make investment of US$ 300 million per mutual fund subject to an industry limit of US$1 billion.

The earlier limits were US$600 million (per mutual fund) and US$200 million (for exchange traded fund) respectively. The overall industry limits are the same.

In respect of investment limits to be disclosed in the scheme documents at the time of NFO as specified in Para 2.2 of the aforesaid circular, and the investment limits on ongoing schemes as specified in Para 2.3 of the aforesaid circular, such limits would henceforth be soft limits for the purpose of reporting only by Mutual Funds on monthly basis in the format prescribed vide SEBI circular dated November 5, 2020.

The aforesaid circular referred to above is the Para 1 of SEBI Circular No. SEBI/HO/IMD/DF3/CIR/P/2020/225 dated
November 05, 2020 which is here i.e.

https://www.sebi.gov.in/legal/circulars/nov-2020/circular-on-enhancement-of-overseas-investment-limits-for-mutual-funds_48090.html

https://www.sebi.gov.in/legal/circulars/jun-2021/circular-on-enhancement-of-overseas-investment-limits_50415.html

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IPOs revised timelines – UPI in ASBA

SEBI has vide its circular dated 2nd June, 2021 revised its timelines for implementation of UPI in ASBA in respect of IPOs. This is after the stakeholders approached SEBI seeking additional time for implementation of system changes especially in view of the covid pandemic. Salient features are as follows:

1. SEBI vide Circular No. SEBI/HO/CFD/DIL2/CIR/P/2021/2480/1/M dated March 16, 2021 (hereinafter referred to as “the circular”), which came into effect from May 01, 2021 had put in place measures to have a uniform policy to further streamline the processing of ASBA applications through UPI process among intermediaries/SCSBs and also provided a mechanism of compensation to investors. 

2. The stakeholders have approached SEBI seeking additional time for implementing the system changes given the prevailing uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

3. In view of the representations received from stakeholders, the implementation timelines for the provisions of “the circular” shall be as under: 

3.1SMS Alerts: Para 9 of “the circular” prescribed the details to be sent by SCSB’s in SMS alerts. While SCSB’s shall continue to send SMS alerts during the actual block/debit/unblock of UPI mandate in the prescribed format, the details of total number of shares applied/allotted/non-allotted etc shall be included in SMS for Public Issues opening on/after January 01, 2022. 

3.2Web Portal for CUG: For ease of doing business, Para 10 of “the circular” prescribed a web portal to be hosted by Sponsor Banks for closed user group (hereinafter referred to as “CUG”) entities. In view of the representations received from the stakeholders, it has been decided that: 

3.2.1 The automated web portal shall be live and operational after due testing and mock trials with the CUG entities for Public Issues opening on or after October 01, 2021. The requisite information on this automated portal shall be updated periodically in intervals not exceeding two hours. 

3.2.2 In the interim, for the Public Issues opening from the date of this circular and till the automated web portal is live and operational, the Sponsor Banks shall send the details prescribed in Para 10 of “the circular” to the e-mail address of CUG entities periodically in intervals not exceeding three hours. In case of exceptional events viz., technical issues with UPI handles/PSPs/TPAPS/SCSB’s etc, the same shall be intimated immediately to the CUG entities so as to facilitate the flow of information in the Public Issue process. 

3.2.3 The Stock Exchanges and Lead Managers shall facilitate providing the requisite data of CUG entities to Sponsor Bank for the development of automated web portal. Such information shall be provided to the Sponsor Bank before opening of the Public Issue. 

3.3Completion of Unblocks by T+4: Para 13 of “the circular” prescribed the process and timeline for ensuring the completion of unblocks pertaining to UPI mandates on T+4 (T: Issue Closing Date). while the process of unblocking shall be completed by T+4, in view of the representations received from stakeholders, the following shall be the revised timelines: 

3.3.1 The Registrar to the Issue shall provide the allotment/ revoke files to the Sponsor Bank by 8:00 PM on T+3 i.e, the day when the Basis of Allotment (BOA) has to be finalized. 

3 3.3.2 The Sponsor Bank shall execute the online mandate revoke file for Non-Allottees/ Partial Allottees and provide pending applications for unblock, if any, to the Registrar to the Issue, not later than 5:00 PM on BOA+1. 

3.3.3 Subsequent to the receipt of the pending applications for unblock from the Sponsor Bank, the Registrar to the Issue shall submit the bank-wise pending UPI applications for unblock to the SCSBs, not later than 6:30 PM on BOA+1. 

3.3.4 To ensure that the unblocking is completed on T+4, the Lead Managers, on a continuous basis and before the opening of the public issue shall take up the matter with the SCSB’s at appropriate level. 

4. This circular comes into force with immediate effect. 

5. The contents of the circular shall be mentioned in the DRHP and RHP filed on or after the date of this circular. 

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foreign portfolio investors

SEBI circular dated 1st June, 2021 allowing a one off, “off-market” transfer of securities by foreign portfolio investors for transferring to IFSC at Gift City, Ahmedabad, which gives substantial tax benefits as per the Finance Act, 2021. Gist of circular follows:

1. The Finance Act, 2021 provides tax incentives for relocating foreign funds to International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in order to make the IFSC in GIFT City a global financial hub. 

2. In view of the above objective and to further facilitate such ‘relocation’, it has been decided that a FPI (‘original fund’ or its wholly owned special purpose vehicle) may approach its DDP for approval of a one-time ‘off-market’ transfer of its securities to the ‘resultant fund’. The terms ‘original fund’, ‘relocation’ and ‘resultant fund’ will have the same meaning as assigned to them under the Finance Act, 2021. 

3. The DDP after appropriate due diligence may accord its approval for a one-time ‘offmarket’ transfer of securities for such relocation. 

4. Relocation request will imply that the FPI has deemed to have applied for surrender of its registration and the DDP may be guided by the guidelines pertaining to surrender of FPI registration. 

5. The ‘off-market’ transfer shall be allowed without prejudice to any provisions of tax laws and FEMA. 6. Para 3, Part C of SEBI Circular No. IMD/FPI&C/CIR/P/2019/124 dated November 05, 2019 stands modified to the extent of para 2 above. 

https://www.sebi.gov.in/legal/circulars/jun-2021/-off-market-transfer-of-securities-by-fpi_50380.html

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LODR compliances – corp gov.

SEBI has mandated an additional set of compliances for listed entities – under regulation 27 of the Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements Regulations 2015. Now disclosures around loans/ guarantees/ letters of comfort/ securities provided by listed entities to their promoter or promoter group entities or any other entity controlled by them, either directly or indirectly has to be made on a half yearly basis from the financial year 2021-22.

The format of the report is given in this circular

https://www.sebi.gov.in/legal/circulars/may-2021/format-of-compliance-report-on-corporate-governance-by-listed-entities_50338.html

Apart from this, there are three other corporate governance reporting to be done in various periods as enumerated under:

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alternative investment funds

SEBI has vide its circular dated 21st May, 2021 enhanced the overseas investment limits for SEBI registered alternative investment funds (AIFs)/ venture capital funds (VCFs) from USD 750 million to USD 1500 million. Details follow.

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Takeover Code – amendments

SEBI has vide its notification dated 5th May, 2021 amended the SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares & Takeovers) Regulations 2011 or the Takeover Code. The following are the amendments carried out.

Regulation 3(1) stipulates that no acquirer shall acquire shares or voting rights in a target company in excess of 25% of the voting rights without making an open offer for acquiring the remaining shares in the target company. Sub Regulation (5) has been added which stipulates that for shares listed in Innovators Growth Platform, the said percentage will be 49%.

Same change has been made in regulation 6, which refers to voluntary offer wherein for 25%, 49% has been stipulated for shares listed in the Innovators Growth Platform.

Regulation 26 pertains to obligations of the target company. Sub regulation (6) specifies that the Board of Directors of the target company shall constitute a committee of independent directors to provide reasoned recommendations on such open offer and the target company shall publish such recommendations. A proviso has been added that while providing reasoned recommendations on the open offer proposal, the committee shall disclose the voting pattern of the meeting in which the open offer proposal was discussed.

Basically it means when the committee of independent directors meet to consider the open offer proposal and draft their reasoned recommendations, the voting pattern of such meeting shall be disclosed.

Regulation 29 pertains to disclosure of acquisition and disposal. It stipulates for disclosure of shareholding and voting rights in the target company aggregating to 5% or more of the shares of such target company. The amendment is that in case of securities listed in the Innovators Growth Platform, this percentage to be read as 10%.

In the case of creeping acquisition, shareholders holding 5% or more shares in a company, shall disclose any change in shareholding exceeding 2% of the total shareholding in the target company. In case of securities listed in Innovators Growth Platform, this percentage to be read as 10% and 5% respectively.

The amendments can be found at sebi site. i.e. http://www.sebi.gov.in

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REITs and InvITs – covid relaxations

SEBI has vide its circular dated 14th May, 2021 given relaxation to Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvITs) allowing them to file their regulatory filings by giving them one month more for the same. Gist of the circular enclosed.

SEBI is in receipt of representations from InvITs and REITs requesting extension of timelines for various regulatory filings and compliances for InvITs and REITs for the period ending March 31, 2021, inter-alia, due to ongoing second wave of the CoVID-19 pandemic and restrictions imposed by various state governments.

  1. After consideration, it has been decided to extend the due date for regulatory filings and compliances for InvITs and REITs for the period ending March 31, 2021 by one month over and above the timelines, prescribed under SEBI (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014 (InvIT Regulations) and SEBI (Real Estate Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014 (REIT Regulations) and circulars issued thereunder.

https://www.sebi.gov.in/legal/circulars/may-2021/relaxation-from-compliance-to-reits-and-invits-due-to-the-covid-19-virus-pandemic_50127.html

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portfolio managers

SEBI has vide its circular dated 12th May, 2021 mandated the registered portfolio managers shall take prior approval when a change in control of the portfolio managers is being considered. SEBI has listed steps that the portfolio managers should take in such circumstances.

Regulation 11(aa) provides that a Portfolio Manager shall obtain prior approval of SEBI in case of change in control in such manner as may be specified by SEBI. Accordingly, it has been decided that all SEBI registered Portfolio Managers shall comply with the following in case they propose a change in control:
a. An online application shall be made to SEBI for prior approval through the SEBI Intermediary Portal (https://siportal.sebi.gov.in).
b. The prior approval granted by SEBI shall be valid for a period of six months from the date of such approval.
c. Applications for fresh registration pursuant to change in control shall be made to SEBI within six months from the date of prior approval.
d. Pursuant to grant of prior approval by SEBI, all the existing investors/ clients shall be informed about the proposed change prior to effecting the same, in order to enable them to take well informed decision regarding their
continuance or otherwise with the changed management.

https://www.sebi.gov.in/legal/circulars/may-2021/procedure-for-seeking-prior-approval-for-change-in-control-of-sebi-registered-portfolio-managers_50116.html

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business responsibility & sustainability reporting

SEBI has mandated vide its circular dated 10th May, 2021 that with effect from financial year 2022-23, top 1000 companies by market capitalization shall report on a new format which incorporates ESG parameters. Gist of circular follows:

In recent times, adapting to and mitigating climate change impact, inclusive growth and transitioning to a sustainable economy have emerged as major issues globally. There is an increased focus of investors and other stakeholders seeking businesses to be responsible and sustainable towards the environment and society. Thus, reporting of company’s performance on sustainability related factors has become as vital as reporting on financial and operational performance.

  1. SEBI vide Circular no. CIR/CFD/CMD/10/2015 dated November 04, 2015 has prescribed the format for the Business Responsibility Report (BRR) in respect of reporting on ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) parameters by listed
    entities.
  2. In terms of amendment to regulation 34 (2) (f) of LODR Regulations vide Gazette notification no. SEBI/LAD-NRO/GN/2021/22 dated May 05, 2021, it has now been decided to introduce new reporting requirements on ESG parameters called the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR). The BRSR is accompanied with a guidance note to enable the companies to interpret the scope of disclosures. The format of the BRSR and the guidance note are detailed in Annexure I and Annexure II respectively.
  3. The BRSR seeks disclosures from listed entities on their performance against the nine principles of the ‘National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct’ (NGBRCs) and reporting under each principle is divided into essential and
    leadership indicators. The essential indicators are required to be reported on a mandatory basis while the reporting of leadership indicators is on a voluntary basis. Listed entities should endeavor to report the leadership indictors also.
  4. The BRSR is intended towards having quantitative and standardized disclosures on ESG parameters to enable comparability across companies, sectors and time. Such disclosures will be helpful for investors to make better investment decisions. The BRSR shall also enable companies to engage more meaningfully with their stakeholders, by encouraging them to look beyond financials and towards social and environmental impacts.
  5. The listed entities already preparing and disclosing sustainability reports based on internationally accepted reporting frameworks (such as GRI, SASB, TCFD or Integrated Reporting) may cross-reference the disclosures made under such framework to the disclosures sought under the BRSR.
    Applicability
  6. In terms of the aforesaid amendment, with effect from the financial year 2022-2023, filing of BRSR shall be mandatory for the top 1000 listed companies (by market capitalization) and shall replace the existing BRR. Filing of BRSR is voluntary for the financial year 2021-22.

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covid relaxations – debt listing

SEBI circular dated 29th April, 2021 giving certain relaxations to compliance deadlines in respect of debt listed securities, municipal bonds and commercial paper. Details are given below.

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