SEBI Current Affairs

Recommendations of Uday Kotak Committee on Corporate Governance

21-member Committee on corporate governance headed by banker Uday Kotak has submitted its report to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The panel was constituted by SEBI in June 2017. It was given four months to submit its recommendations. In its suggestions it has recommended major overhaul of corporate governance norms for listed firms.

Recommendations of Committee

Separation of the roles: Roles of chairman and managing director at listed firms should be separated and chairmanship should be limited to only non-executive directors. Listed firms with more than 40% public shareholding should have separate roles of chairperson and MD/CEO with effect from April 1, 2020. After 2020, SEBI may examine extending requirement to all listed entities with effect from 2022.

Minimum board strength: It should be increased to 6 members and at least one woman should be appointed as independent director. At least five board meeting for listed firms should be held in year up from current practice of four meetings. Firms’ board should at least once a year discuss succession planning and risk management.

Independent Directors: At least half of board members to be independent directors at listed companies, while all directors must attend at least half of board meets. Public shareholders’ nod must be mandatory for non-executive directors over 75 years of age.

Shareholder meeting and cash flow statement: Top 100 firms by market capitalisation should webcast shareholder meeting and all listed firms should have cash flow statement every six months. It should be mandatory disclosure of quarterly consolidated earnings by listed firms.

Credit ratings: Updated list of all credit ratings obtained by the listed entity must be made available at one place, which would be very helpful for investors and other stakeholders.

Minimum remuneration: Independent directors must get minimum remuneration of Rs 5 lakh per annum and sitting fee of Rs 20,000-50,000 for each board meet. It should be mandatory for firms to seek public shareholders’ approval for annual remuneration of executive directors from promoter family if amount is above Rs 5 crore or 2.5% of firm’s net profit.

In case of more than one such director, same condition should apply for aggregate annual remuneration exceeding 5% of the net profit. The approval of shareholders must be required every year in which  annual remuneration payable to single non-executive director exceeds 50% of total annual remuneration payable to all non-executive directors.

Risk management and IT committee: Top-500 listed companies should have risk management committee of boards for cyber security. In addition, listed entities must constitute an information technology committee that will focus on digital and technological aspects.

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SEBI allows REITs, InvITs to raise funds via debt securities

Capital markets regulator SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) amended guidelines of Real Estate Investment Trusts (Reits) and Infrastructure Investments Trusts (InvITs) in order to broaden scope of fund raising by such instruments.

Amended Guidelines

It allows REITs and InvITs to raise capital by issuing debt securities. REITs now require to have 50% stake in holding company marginally less from earlier limit of 51%. Like InvITs, REITs are now allowed to invest in single assets and can also lend to an underlying holding company. ​REITs have been allowed to lend to an underlying holding company or a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

Real Estate Investment Trusts (Reits)

Reits are investment vehicles that can be used by real estate players to attract private investment, while investors (both retail and institutional) can gain dividends generated from income-producing real estate assets like office buildings, shopping malls, etc. They are similar to mutual funds which provide opportunity to invest in equity stocks, whereas REITs allow one to invest in income-generating real estate assets.

In REITs, most of the earnings via sale / rent of such investments are distributed to its shareholders. Its purpose is to improve the liquidity position of Real Estate developers and give a secure avenue to investors to invest in long term. REITs are only for completed projects not the under-construction projects. They are primarily for commercial projects and mainly serve as an alternative investment.

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