India's market regulator tightens stock market listing rules

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is pictured on the premises of its headquarters in Mumbai, India March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s market regulator on Tuesday strengthened rules for companies going public, potentially slowing some planned new issues, as it seeks to protect retail investors after a record year of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs).

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has set a limit on the level of proceeds from new issues a company can use for takeovers in the event the company has not specified the acquisition target in its offer document.

“When any entity raises money under an IPO, it is for some purpose and investors are investing for that purpose, so that needs to be strictly monitored,” Ajay Tyagi, chairman of SEBI, told a news briefing after the regulator’s board meeting.

In the short term, the change could affect some companies’ listing plans, analysts said.

“Inability to raise money for future unidentifiable acquisitions would impact capital-raising plans of some unicorns, particularly where such companies may not have any other use of capital and where existing shareholders are not keen to sell,” Yash Ashar of law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, said.

SEBI has also capped the number of shares anchor investors can sell at 50% of their investments after a lock-in of 30 days. The remaining 50% will need to be locked in for a total of 90 days.

The regulatory changes crown a year of intense listing activity. Accountancy firm EY said Indian companies raised $9.7 billion through initial share sales in the first nine months of 2021, the highest such tally in any of the corresponding periods of the last two decades.

Not everyone has made money.

Earlier this month, Paytm, backed by Ant group and Softback, lost as much as 13% to hit the lowest since a dismal debut in November after a lock-in period for anchor investors in the company’s initial public expired.

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