SEBI Amends Existing Regulatory Framework for delisting of Equity Shares pursuant to open offer

equity shares - SEBI - Taxscan

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in the meeting headed by Mr.Ajay Tyagi decided to amend the existing regulatory framework for delisting of equity shares pursuant to open offer as provided under the extant Regulation 5A of the SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations).

Under the existing framework, if an open offer is triggered, compliance with Takeover Regulations could take the incoming acquirer’s holding to above 75% or perhaps even 90%, however, to ensure compliance with Securities Contract (Regulation) Rules, 1957 (SCRR) the acquirer would be forced to first bring his stake down to 75% as the SEBI (Delisting of Equity Shares) Regulations, 2021 (Delisting Regulations) would not let the acquirer even to attempt at delisting unless the holding is first brought down to 75%. Such directionally contradictory transactions in a sequence pose complexity in the takeover of listed companies especially where the acquirer desires to get the company delisted pursuant to his take over.

The revised framework aims to make M&A transactions for listed companies a more rational and convenient exercise, balancing the interest of all investors in the process.

As per the press release the framework shall be made available in the case of open offers under the Takeover Regulations for an incoming acquirer who is seeking to acquire control under Regulation 3(1) or Regulation 4 or Regulation 5. If the acquirer is desirous of delisting the target company, the acquirer must propose a higher price for delisting with suitable premium over open offer price.

Further, if the response to the open offer leads to the delisting threshold of 90% being met, all shareholders who tender their shares shall be paid the same delisting price and if the response to the offer leads to the delisting threshold of 90% not being met, all shareholders who tender their shares shall be paid the same takeover price.

If a company does not get delisted pursuant to the open offer under this framework, and the acquirer crosses 75% due to the open offer, a period of 12 months from the date of completion of the open offer will be provided to the acquirer to make further attempts to delist the company under the Delisting Regulations using the reverse book building mechanism. If delisting during this extended 12-month period is not successful, the acquirer then must comply with the minimum public shareholding norm within a period of 12 months from the end of such period.

If the acquirer at the time of open offer, states upfront that it would opt for remaining listed, and the total stake at the end of the tendering period reaches above 75%, then the acquirer may opt for either proportionately scaling down of purchases made under both, i.e. the underlying share purchase agreement and the shares tendered under open offer, in such a manner that the 75% threshold is never crossed or alternatively, the acquirer shall have to become compliant with minimum public shareholding within the time stipulated under SCRR.

While undertaking delisting under this framework, all the provisions of the Delisting Regulations shall be applicable mutatis-mutandis, save otherwise provided in this framework.

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