SEBI Consultation Paper on Minimum Public Shareholding in CIRP Cases

  June 23, 2021

On August 19, 2020, SEBI released a Consultation Paper on ‘Recalibration of threshold for Minimum Public Shareholding Norms in Companies which undergo Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP)’.

Existing legal position: Relaxations provided to listed entities undergoing CIRP

For ensuring the smooth revival of the corporate debtor post-approval of the resolution plan, SEBI has provided relaxations under various regulations. These exemptions are exclusive to entities involved in IBC cases and are not even provided when companies seek approval for schemes of arrangement. Some of them are:

  • Minimum public shareholding threshold: Rule 19A of the Securities Contract (Regulation) Rules, 1957 states that the minimum public shareholding for listed companies is 25%.

In cases where the decrease in public shareholding is as a result of a resolution plan being implemented under the IBC:

(a) If the public shareholding is below 10%, within

18 months- it should be 10% and within,

3 years- it should be 25%

(b) If the public shareholding is between 10%-25%, within

3 years- it should be 25%.[1]

  • Preferential Issue[2]: Listed entities undergoing CIRP are exempted from complying with preferential issue requirements mandated in the SEBI (ICDR) Regulations, 2018.[3] Exception- However, this exemption does not extend to lock-in period provisions concerning preferential issue. Therefore, shares allotted to an incoming investor under a resolution plan are subject to lock-in period of at least 1 year.[4]

Concerns and Issues:

  • Extremely low public shareholding: As a result of the aforementioned relaxations, public shareholding in such listed entities went abysmally low post-implementation of resolution plans. This resulted in various issues such as inability to discover fair price of the listed scrip, need to enhance surveillance measures, prohibition of healthy trading etc. These concerns would linger until the minimum public shareholding is at least 10%.
  • Inability to dilute promoter shareholding: Owing to the lock-in requirements applicable on preferential issues, the incoming investor cannot sell its shares prior for at least 1 year. This, in turn, comes in way of the promoter selling its shares to the public for enhancing the public shareholding immediately.

Proposals:

  • In order to deal with the low public shareholding issue, three options have been proposed:

(a) Option 1: Mandate such companies to achieve-

10 percent- in six months

25 percent- in three years

(b) Option 2: Mandate such companies to achieve-

5 percent- at the time of listing

10 percent- in twelve months

25 percent- in twenty-four months

(c) Option 3: Mandate such companies to achieve-

10 percent- at the time of listing

25 percent- in three years

  • It has been recommended that offloading the locked-in shares can be permitted to the extent they enable compliance of the minimum public shareholding threshold of 25%.

A proposal has also been made to standardize reporting framework under SEBI (LODR) Regulations, 2015 pursuant to approval of a resolution plan.

~ Sara Jain


[1] Rule 19A(5), Securities Contract (Regulation) Rules, 1957

[2] Preferential issue means an issue of specified securities by a listed issuer to any select person or group of persons on a private placement basis. It does not include ESOPs, depository receipts and sweat equity shares.

[3] Regulation 158(2), SEBI (Issue and Capital Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2018

[4] The lock-in period for shares contributing toward minimum promoter contribution i.e. 20% of total capital is 3 years. The lock-in period for any shareholding exceeding 20% is 1 year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

“In adherence to the rules and regulations of Bar Council of India, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute of Company Secretaries of India, Institute of Cost Accountants of India and any other professional bodies (whether mentioned or not herein), this website has been designed only for the purposes of circulation and exchange of information, and not for advertising.
Your use of ibc16.com’s services are completely at your own risk. Readers and subscribers should seek proper advice from an expert professional before acting on the information mentioned herein. The content on this website is general information and none of the information contained on the website is in the nature of a legal opinion, or otherwise amounts to any legal advice. The user is requested to use their judgment, and exchange of any such information shall be solely at the user’s risk.
ibc16.com does not take responsibility for the actions of any member registered on the site, and is not accountable for any decision taken by the reader based on information/commitment provided by the registered member(s). By clicking ‘ENTER’, the visitor acknowledges that the information provided on the website (a) does not amount to advertising or solicitation, and (b) is meant only for his/her understanding about our activities and who we are.”