SEBI decides to change preferential allotment norms on pricing, lock-in requirement

New Delhi: Markets regulator Sebi on Tuesday decided to relax pricing norms and lock-in requirements to make it easier for companies to raise funds through preferential allotment of shares.

Further, according to a press release issued by SEBI after the board meeting, the regulator has decided to allow pledge of shares allotted to promoter or promoter group under preferential issue during the lock-in period.

SEBI asked to fix the minimum price for a frequently traded security such that the minimum price for the preferential issue should exceed the volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of 90/10 trading days of the share prior to the relevant date needed.

For low-traded securities, SEBI said valuation report by a registered independent valuer would be required.

Presently, the pricing formula in the preferential allotment is the VWAP of the last two weeks or the last 26 weeks, whichever is higher.

SEBI has said that any preference issue resulting in change of control or allotment of more than 5 per cent stake would require a valuation report from a registered valuer.

In addition, any change of control resulting from the allocation of a preferential issue would require a committee of independent directors to provide a reasoned recommendation along with their comments on all aspects of preferential issuance, including pricing.

In addition, the voting pattern of the committee should also be disclosed to the shareholders or to the public.

This comes against the backdrop of the proposed allotment of preference shares by PNB Housing Finance to US-based Carlyle Group and hurdles from a bunch of other investors.

SEBI had questioned the propriety of fixing the issue price of PNB Housing Finance.

In view of the coronavirus pandemic, temporary relaxation for pricing was allowed to make preferential allotment using 12-week VWAP.

Such relaxation was applicable for preferential issues made between July 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

Further, the regulator has decided to relax the lock-in provisions for preferential issue to promoters and non-promoters.

For promoters, SEBI said the lock-in requirement for allotment of up to 20 per cent of post issue paid-up capital should be reduced to 18 months from the existing 3 years. The lock-in requirement should be reduced to 6 months from the existing 1 year for allocation of more than 20 per cent of the post issue paid-up capital.

“For non-promoters, the lock-in requirement for allotment will be reduced from 1 year to 6 months,” SEBI said.

The regulator said promoters should be allowed to pledge locked-in shares after a preferential issue, provided pledging of such securities is one of the conditions for sanction of loan granted by a financial institution.

In addition, the debt is to be sanctioned to the issuing company or its subsidiaries for financing the items of preference issue, SEBI said.

The regulator also said that the consideration for a preferential issue, ? Other than cash? Share swaps should be allowed only backed by valuation report from an independent registered valuer.

The issuing company must mandatorily apply for in-principle approval from the stock exchanges on the same day as the date of sending the notice to the shareholder for the AGM or EGM.

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