Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
In this behalf, an article in the VC Circle by Saionton Basu and Tom Clark details the various steps to be taken by affected Indian companies to “review or implement anti-bribery procedures and policies”.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Although the order itself is 99 pages long, it contains a useful summary of conclusions (at para 27.2), which is extracted below:
1. OFCDs are hybrid instruments, and are ‘debentures’.Although the case involved an egregious set of facts, the SEBI order leaves no stone unturned in establishing the case of violation on the part of the Sahara companies. Despite being an order of first instance by a regulatory authority, it is replete with in-depth judicial analysis of various concepts under corporate and securities laws, including the meaning and scope of financial instruments such as OFCDs, debentures and hybrid securities, and the interpretation of various provisions of the Companies Act and Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, all of which have been supported by relevant case law.
2. The definition of ‘securities’ under Section 2(h) of the SCR Act is an inclusive one, and can accommodate a wide class of financial instruments. The OFCDs issued by the two Companies fall well within this definition.
3. The issue of OFCDs by the two Companies is public in nature, as they have been offered and issued to more than fifty persons, being covered under the first proviso to Section 67(3) of the Companies Act. The manner and the features of fund raising under the OFCDs issued by the two Companies further show that they cannot be regarded to be of a domestic concern or that only invitees have accepted the offer.
4. Section 60B deals with the issue of information memorandum to the public alone. Therefore the same cannot be used for raising capital through private placements as the said provision is exclusively designed for public book built issues. When a company files an information memorandum under Section 60B, it should apply for listing and therefore has to be treated as a listed public company for the purposes of Section 60B(9) of the Companies Act. Further, Section 60B has to be read together with all other applicable provisions of the Companies Act and cannot be adopted as a separate code by itself for raising funds, without due regard to the scheme and purpose of the Act itself. The same evidently has never been the intention of the Parliament.
5. The two companies, in raising money from the public, in violation of the legal framework applicable to them, have not complied with the elaborate investor protection measures, explained in Paragraph 25 above. This, inter alia, also means that the rigorous scrutiny carried out by SEBI Registered intermediaries on any public issue by a public company have been subverted in the mobilization of huge sums of money from the public, by the two Companies.
6. The two Companies have not executed debenture trust deeds for securing the issue of debenture; failed to appoint a debenture trustee; and failed to create a debenture redemption reserve for the redemption of such debentures.
7. The two Companies have failed to appoint a monitoring agency (a public financial institution or a scheduled commercial bank) when their issue size exceeded `500 cr., for the purposes of monitoring the use of proceeds of the issue. This mechanism is put in place to avoid siphoning of the funds by the promoters by diverting the proceeds of the issue.
8. The two companies failed to enclose an abridged prospectus, containing details as specified, along with their forms.
9. The companies have kept their issues open for more than three years/two years, as the case may be, in contravention of the prescribed time limit of ten working days under the regulations.
10. The two companies have failed to apply for and obtain listing permission from recognized stock exchanges.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Update - June 22, 2011: Somasekhar Sundaresan has an interesting analysis in the Business Standards that highlights several unintended consequences that could arise out of SEBI's ruling.
Friday, June 10, 2011
It is common knowledge that an injunction is granted only if the applicant satisfies the court on the three-pronged test of prima facie case, irreparable injury and balance of convenience. While there is controversy over the scope of some of these elements, notably prima facie case, and over the relationship between these elements, there are also circumstances in which an applicant may be able to obtain an injunction without satisfying the three-pronged test. The recent judgment of the Court of Appeal in Araci v Fallon contains a clear exposition of this point.
The case arose out of rather unusual circumstances. As is well-known, the 2011 edition of the Epsom Derby, one of the most prestigious horse races in Britain (“the Derby”) took place on 4 June, 2011. The claimant, Mr Araci, was the owner of one of the favourites (“Native Khan”) which he expected would be ridden by Mr Fallon, a highly regarded jockey. Mr Araci and Mr Fallon had entered into a Rider Retainer Agreement (“RRA”) on 1 April 2011, under which Mr Fallon received £10,000 for undertaking two important obligations: first, to ride Mr Araci’s horse whenever requested by him to do so, and secondly, to not ride a rival horse in any race in which he has been requested by Mr Araci to ride the latter’s horse. In other words, the RRA contained a positive as well as a negative covenant. Invoking these provisions, Mr Araci asked Mr Fallon to ride Native Khan at the Derby. Mr Fallon communicated his refusal to do so on 30 May 2011, and indicated that he intended to ride “Recital”, owned by a rival and also a favourite. Mr Araci promptly sought an injunction to restrain him from acting in breach of the negative covenant.
The judge at first instance dismissed the application, finding that there was an adequate remedy in damages, and that it was unjust in all the circumstances to grant the equitable relief sought. The Court of Appeal, in an instructive judgment, reversed. Jackson LJ began by noticing that the practice of considering the strength of a party’s case on the merits and the balance of convenience is rarely appropriate when an injunction is sought to restrain a clear breach of a negative covenant. This principle goes back to Lord Cairns LC’s classic, albeit obiter, observations in Doherty v Allman:
If parties, for valuable consideration, with their eyes open, contract that a particular thing shall not be done, all that a court of equity has to do is to say, by way of injunction, that which the parties have already said by way of covenant, that the thing shall not be done … It is not then a question of the balance of convenience or inconvenience, or of the amount of damage or of injury – it is the specific performance, by the court, of that negative bargain which the parties have made, with their eyes open, between themselves
The clear rationale that emerges from this passage is that it is inappropriate to require the applicant to demonstrate that the balance of convenience favours the grant of an injunction when the defendant has contractually agreed to refrain from doing the very thing in respect of which the injunction is sought. However, Doherty was a perpetual injunction case and it was not clear whether the same approach would prevail so far as interim injunctions are concerned. In granting an injunction restraining the defendant from playing a musical instrument in breach of a negative covenant, Megarry J. confirmed that it does, because there is “…no reason for allowing a covenantor who stands in clear breach of an express prohibition to have a holiday from the enforcement of his obligations until the trial” [Hampstead and Suburban Properties Limited v Diomedous (1969) 1 Ch 248].
Thus the rule is that an injunction will be granted to restrain a clear breach of a negative covenant unless there are “special circumstances”. In this case, Jackson LJ concluded that Mr Araci did not have an adequate remedy in damages, and Elias LJ made the additional point that it was not even necessary to decide that question, because adequacy of damages is not relevant when an applicant seeks to merely hold the respondent to his negative covenant. Nor did there exist special circumstances making it oppressive to grant the relief sought. Mr Fallon suggested that granting an injunction would adversely affect the public, because some may have made bets on the assumption that Mr Fallon would ride, while for others it would detract from the quality of a major national event. Jackson LJ rejected the first point because a member of the betting public runs the risk of an unexpected change in sporting variables, and the second because there was no risk that the Derby would not take place, although Mr Fallon himself could not participate. Mr Fallon’s loss was disregarded because he had “brought this predicament upon himself by his own deliberate and cynical disregard of a contract.” It was accepted that the position would have been different if the injunction could have affected the event itself.
The rationale for the decision to restrict redemption to illiquid IDRs is yet unclear.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
condition (f) which exempts a state public sector undertaking (and also a central public sector undertaking) from conditions on financing specific sectors and net worth, thereby indicating that a state public sector undertaking can be a public financial institution.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Although there has been a signficiant amount of discussion about corporate social responsibility (CSR) in India, there has been little academic analysis of the concept. A new paper titled Directors as Trustees of the Nation? India’s Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility Reform Efforts by Professor Afra Afsharipour fills this gap. Interestingly, it also considers the crucial interplay between corporate governance and CSR. The abstract is as follows:
This Article argues that the Indian government’s corporate governance and CSR efforts, while laudable in some respects, are problematic in their approach to the governance of Indian companies and reflect a view of the ownership and governance of Indian companies that does not necessarily address the fundamental governance issues that arise in Indian firms. India’s proposed corporate law reforms suggest imposition of detailed corporate governance rules without necessarily assisting directors in addressing the majority–minority agency problems of controlled companies. Moreover, India’s proposed CSR guidelines may further hamper independent directors and exacerbate some of the problems that this Article discusses with respect to majority–minority agency costs.