Tuesday, 28 February 2012

SEBI's New Takeover Code

SEBI'S New Takeover Code 

Vide Notification dated September 23, 2011, Market watchdog SEBI has notified the much awaited New Takeover Regulations namely SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (hereinafter referred to as “SEBI (SAST) Regulations, 2011”) which will replace the existing Takeover (SAST) Regulations, 1997. The new Regulations shall come into force on the 30th day from the date of their publication in the Official Gazette i.e. w.e.f. October 22, 2011, any acquisition or sale of shares of Listed Company shall be governed by provisions of SEBI (SAST) Regulations, 2011.

Highlights of New Takeover Regulations are as under:

1. Increase in Initial Threshold Limit from 15% to 25%.

The Initial Threshold limit provided for Open Offer obligations is increased from 15% to 25% of the voting rights of the Target Company. Since SEBI (SAST) Regulations, 2011 will be applicable from October 22, 2011, thus it’s a last opportunity for all the Promoters holding less than 25% but more than 20% to come within bracket of Creeping Acquisition. Otherwise even the existing Promoters of these Companies have to give offer to consolidate their holding.

2. Creeping Acquisition Limit raised from 15%-55% to 25%-75%:

Now there will a single and clear creeping acquisition bracket. This will be available to all persons holding 25% or more but up to 75% i.e maximum permissible non-public holding shall be eligible for creeping acquisition of 5% each financial year.

3. Open Offer Trigger Point based on Individual Holding:

Now the Individual Acquirer Shareholding shall also be considered for determining the Open Offer Trigger Points apart from consolidated promoter shareholding. (Regulation 3(3) of SEBI (SAST) Regulations, 2011)

4. Increase in Offer Size from 20% to 26%.

The Offer Size is increased only upto 26% instead of TRAC Recommendation of 100%. It’s a good move from the point of view of domestic acquirers on account of lack of proper bank funding options available in India

5. New Provisions in case of increase in shareholding beyond the maximum permissible non-public shareholding due to Open Offer

Obligation on the acquirer to bring down the non-public shareholding to the level specified and within the time permitted under Securities Contract (Regulation) Rules, 1957; 
Ineligibility to make a voluntary delisting offer under SEBI (Delisting of Equity Shares) Regulations, 2009, unless a period of twelve months has elapsed from the date of the completion of the offer period. 

6. Abolition of Non-compete fees.

SEBI has accepted the TRAC Recommendation of scrapping the non-compete fee or control premium. Any amount paid to the Promoters/Sellers whether as consideration, non-compete fee or control premium or otherwise, shall be added in Offer Price and hence public shareholders shall be given offer at the highest of such prices.

7. Definition of “Control” modified:

A new definition of Control has been introduced in the new Regulation which is similar to recommendation of TRAC Report with an exception that the word “Ability” has been removed. The definition is as under:

“Control” includes the right to appoint majority of the directors or to control the management or policy decisions exercisable by a person or persons acting individually or in concert, directly or indirectly, including by virtue of their shareholding or management rights or shareholders agreements or voting agreements or in any other manner:

Provided that a director or officer of a target company shall not be considered to be in control over such target company, merely by virtue of holding such position

8. Change in Control

Any change in control of the listed company shall be only after Open Offer. The exemption from Open Offer available in case of change in control without acquisition of substantial shares, through a special resolution by postal ballot process, has been withdrawn and now the only route available for change in management and control is through the Open Offer to the shareholders of the Target Company. This is in contrast with the Regulation 12 of the SEBI (SAST) Regulations, 1997 which provides for the change in control through the special resolution passed by way of postal ballot.

9. No Exemption in case of acquisition from other competing acquirer

10. Frequently Traded Shares

For determining the frequency of trading in shares, the trading turnover during the 12 months preceding the month in which the Public Announcement is made will be considered. Further, the volume of trading for frequently traded company increase from 5% to 10% to have a more realistic picture.

11. New Definitions Introduced

“Enterprise Value” means the value calculated as market capitalization of a company plus debt, minority interest and preferred shares, minus total cash and cash equivalents. 
“Volume weighted average market price” means the product of the number of equity shares traded on a stock exchange and the price of each equity share divided by the total number of equity shares traded on the stock exchange. 
“Volume weighted average price” means the product of the number of equity shares bought and price of each such equity share divided by the total number of equity shares bought. 
“Weighted average number of total shares” means the number of shares at the beginning of a period, adjusted for shares cancelled, bought back or issued during the aforesaid period, multiplied by a time-weighing factor. 

12. New Formats Introduced for PA, LOO, and Disclosures, Exemptions, Recommendation on the Open Offer by the Board of Directors and so on.

13. Detailed provisions for Voluntary Open Offer

The concept of voluntary open offer has been separately dealt in the SEBI (SAST) Regulations, 2011.In case of voluntary open offer, the offer size may be of 10% or more of the voting rights at the will of the Acquirer.

14. Detailed provisions relating to Indirect Acquisition:

The New Regulations prescribes detailed provisions relating to Indirect Acquisitions which is a welcome move as there was quite confusion. The New Regulations define the situations which will be deemed as Indirect Acquisition.

15. Recommendation on the Open Offer by the Board of Target Company

A recommendation on the offer by the Board of Target Company has been made mandatory and such recommendations shall be published at least two working days before the commencement of the tendering period in the same newspapers where the public announcement of the open offer was published, and simultaneously, a copy of the same shall be sent to SEBI, Stock Exchange and Manager to the Offer.

16. Revision in SEBI fees to be given while submitting the draft letter of offer

17. Provisions relating to Exemption from Open Offer has been modified

18. Other Consequential Amendments

Simultaneously with the amendment in SEBI (SAST) Regulations, 2011, the format of disclosure of shareholding as provided under Clause 35 of the Listing Agreement in respect of following has been replaced

        a. Statement showing holding of securities (including shares, warrants, convertible securities) of persons belonging to the category “Promoter and Promoter Group”, : 

        b. Statement showing holding of securities (including shares, warrants, convertible securities) of persons belonging to the category “Public” and holding more than 1% of the total number of shares; 

       c. Statement showing holding of securities (including shares, warrants, convertible securities) of persons (together with PAC) belonging to the category “Public” and holding more than 5% of the total number of shares of the company. 

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