Sebi proposes stricter IPO norms as startups listings gather pace

Sebi proposes stricter IPO norms as startups listings gather pace
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The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has proposed to tweak rules governing initial public offerings (IPOs) with an aim to bring in more transparency and accountability. The market regulator is seeking a cap on the amount companies, mainly startups, raise for inorganic growth initiatives and also the quantum existing shareholders can offload in the Further, has proposed to increase the lock-in period for from 30 days at present to 90 days. It has also called for great monitoring of proceeds.


The proposals come amid a record Rs 1-trillion-plus mop up through IPOs this year –bulk of it from new-age and loss-making companies.





The regulator on Tuesday issued a consultation paper in this regard. has invited market feedback before the end of this month, after which it will firm up the rules.


“It is seen that lately in some of the draft offer documents, issuer companies are proposing to raise fresh funds for objects where object is termed as ‘Funding of Inorganic Growth Initiatives’, which includes future acquisitions, investing in new business initiatives and strategic partnerships by the company without identifying the target acquisition or specific investments proposed to be deployed out of issue proceeds… raising fund for unidentified acquisition leads to some amount of uncertainty in the objects,” has said in a discussion paper.


Recently-concluded startup IPOs such as Zomato, Policy Bazaar and Paytm had stated objects of the issue as funding acquisitions and growth initiatives.


“Sebi wants to limit the end-use of funds raised, if the objective of the IPO proceeds is not specific. It wants to encourage definitive end-use plans from companies going for IPOs. This will help in better monitoring and help safeguard investors,” said Supreme Waskar, a corporate lawyer.


The current rules already allow companies to raise up to 25 per cent of their IPO proceeds under a vague head of ‘general corporate purpose (GCP)’.


Sebi has prescribed a combined limit of 35 per cent of the fresh issue size for deployment on such objects of inorganic growth initiatives and GCP. The cap won’t apply if the companies are more specific about their plans at the time of filing their offer document.


The regulator has also raised concerns over high dilution by existing shareholders in the IPO. It has proposed companies where there is no identifiable promoters, those holding over 20 per cent, can sell at the most half of their pre-IPO holdings. The remaining will remain locked in for at least six months from the IPO.


The move, Sebi has said, is to ensure more skin in the game and inspire confidence among investors, particularly in case of loss-making companies.


Sebi has also proposed at at least 50 per cent of the shares allotted in the anchor category remain locked-in for 90 days instead of current lock in of just 30 days. “It is felt that a longer lock-in for will provide more confidence to other investors,” Sebi has said.


The regulator has also proposed that the issue proceeds earmarked under GCP be brought under monitoring. Every company raising fresh proceeds in the IPO has to appoint a monitoring agency, The agency’s job is to oversee whether the funds are used for the stated purpose in the offer document. GCP component is currently kept out of such monitoring.

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