Listed Companies made subject to stricter scrutiny and multilevel approvals
With the objective of empowering the stock exchanges and streamlining the processing of draft schemes filed with the stock exchanges, the Securities and Exchange Board of India has issues a Circular dated 3rd November, 2011 (“Amendment Circular”) thereby amending the Circular dated March 10, 2017 (“March, 2017 Circular”) which lays down the framework for Schemes of Arrangement by listed entities and relaxation under Rule 19(7) of the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Rules, 1957.
The Amendment Circular shall be effective for scheme submitted to the Stock Exchange after 17th November, 2020 and for those companies which are either listed, seeking to be listed or awaiting trading approval after 3rd November, 2020.
Schemes of Arrangement is unarguably a material event for the listed company, and as such, optimum transparency, disclosure by the company, coupled with stringent checks by the Committees, viz Audit Committee and Committee of Independent Directors, becomes a very crucial factor for decision making by the shareholders.
The Amendment Circular primarily aims at ensuring that the recognized stock exchanges refer draft schemes to SEBI only upon being fully convinced that the listed entity is in compliance with SEBI Act, Rules, Regulations and circulars issued thereunder. While the amendments introduced, bring to light the tenet of the regulatory bodies to ensure higher levels of transparency and disclosures with respect to the proposed schemes, there also seems to be an underlying tone of stress and responsibility that has been imposed on the Audit Committee and Independent Directors to assess the viability of the proposed Schemes.
In this article, the author has given a detailed comparison of the provisions, before and after the Amendment Circular, along with comments on the same.