India’s market regulator probing three IPOs for inflating subscriptions

MUMBAI (Reuters) -India’s market regulator is investigating three initial public offerings (IPOs) for allegedly inflating the number of subscriptions received, its chairperson said at an event on Friday.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is working on measures to curtail such malpractices, Madhabi Puri Buch said at an event in Mumbai, without mentioning details.

To improve the processing of public offer documents, the regulator is also examining whether in-principle approval can be given in cases where offers are facing judicial delays or issues from other regulators, she said.

Separately, Reuters had reported in November that the regulator is planning to ease capital and disclosure requirements for fund houses that run passive investment schemes. Buch said that a discussion paper outlining the proposed rules will be issued by March.

Ananth Narayan, a whole time member at SEBI, said that the regulator has observed that alternative investment funds (AIF) were used to not just “evergreen” assets but also to violate India’s foreign exchange norms and bankruptcy rules.

“We will soon issue a consultation paper outlining general obligations of AIFs and the due diligence they need to undertake”, he said.

“Evergreening” means giving out a fresh loan to avoid default on an existing one.

As part of easing rules for AIFs, SEBI will allow priority distribution in genuine cases, Narayan said, where a fund pays a certain category of investors before the others. SEBI had disallowed this practise last year in view of instances of “evergreening”.

He added that SEBI is also considering allowing AIFs to pledge the shares of the companies they invest in. This will be allowed for infrastructure firms.

(Reporting by Jayshree P. Upadhyay; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Sonia Cheema)