A Faster Track for Debt Financing: Examining India’s Proposed Public Issuance Framework

[Dhaval Bothra and Rajdeep Bhattacharjee are students at Symbiosis Law School, Pune]

The Indian corporate debt market, while exhibiting notable dynamism, grapples with a critical challenge: the stark predominance of private placements. This overreliance on opaque transactions significantly restricts public participation and impedes overall market development. Recognizing this constraint, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) has proposed a transformative initiative – the Fast Track Public Issue (“FTPI”) framework for debt securities via the consultation paper dated 9 December 2023. This post will examine the rationale behind FTPI, dissect its key features, and explore its potential to revitalize the Indian corporate debt landscape.

Traditionally, approximately 98% of corporate debt issuances in India occur through private placements. While this mechanism efficiently caters to immediate funding needs, it could also impede broader market participation. Retail investors, who represent a vital source of liquidity and diversification, are largely excluded from this segment. Further, issuers with frequent capital requirements navigate a cumbersome public issue process, constraining their operational agility.

FTPI emerges as a potent response to these challenges. The framework aims to:

  1. Expedite Fundraising: By streamlining procedures, reducing unnecessary regulatory hurdles, and optimizing disclosure requirements, FTPI could significantly compress the traditional public issue timeline. This would enable issuers to access capital swiftly, capture fleeting market opportunities, and maintain efficient capital allocation.
  2. Broaden Investor Participation: Through the creation of smaller issue sizes and shorter subscription periods, FTPI could facilitate participation by retail investors. This would democratize access to debt instruments, expand the investor base, and inject fresh liquidity into the market.
  3. Enhance Transparency and Efficiency: FTPI prioritizes robust disclosure through the dedicated deployment of Key Information Documents (“KIDs”) and General Information Documents (“GIDs”). This heightened transparency could empower informed investor decision-making, foster trust in the market and lay the foundation for sustainable growth.

The FTPI framework outlines specific eligibility criteria for issuers, ensuring responsible utilization of this fast-track route. Stringent requirements surrounding track record, credit rating, and regulatory compliance safeguard the system from potential misuse.

Examining the Anatomy of India’s FTPI Framework

The proposed FTPI framework for debt securities represents a bold attempt by the SEBI to revitalize the Indian corporate debt market. However, its success hinges on the effectiveness of its core components, which necessitate careful analysis.

Eligibility Criteria

FTPI establishes stringent eligibility criteria to ensure responsible utilization of the fast-track route. A consistent track record, evidenced by a minimum three-year listing of non-convertible securities or specified units, serves as a crucial indicator of financial stability and governance practices. This requirement safeguards the system from potential misuse by entities lacking a proven track record.

Furthermore, a minimum credit rating of “AA-” or equivalent acts as a filter for issuers with robust creditworthiness. This mitigates risk for investors and fosters confidence in the overall system. Stringent regulatory compliance ensures adherence to applicable regulations, minimizing the possibility of legal or financial transgressions that could destabilize the market.

The combined effect of these criteria is multi-faceted. While potentially excluding smaller companies without a long credit history, it assures investors of reliable issuers with a demonstrated commitment to transparency and regulatory compliance. This balance between speed and responsibility is crucial for the long-term sustainability of the FTPI framework.

Disclosure Requirements

A cornerstone of investor confidence is robust and readily available information. FTPI, in recognizing this, streamlines and enhances disclosure requirements through KIDs and GIDs. Compared to the voluminous offer documents of traditional public issues, GIDs present key information in a concise and accessible format. This caters to the faster pace of FTPI by reducing the time burden on issuers while still providing essential details for informed investor decisions.

KIDs, specifically designed for FTPI, delve deeper into material changes not covered in the GID and highlight potential risk factors. This targeted approach minimizes information overload while ensuring investors have access to critical information relevant to the fast-track offering. This balance between conciseness and comprehensiveness is essential for promoting both speed and transparency in the FTPI framework.

Subscription Period and Minimum Subscription

A shorter subscription period, ranging from one to ten working days, is a defining feature of FTPI. This expedites the fundraising process for issuers while capturing fleeting market opportunities. However, a potential downside lies in limiting participation from institutional investors with longer decision-making timelines. Striking a balance between speed and inclusivity will necessitate ongoing monitoring and potential adjustments to the subscription period, considering market feedback and participation patterns.

The proposed removal of the minimum subscription requirement for specific entities like banks and NBFCs is another noteworthy aspect. This caters to their frequent capital needs and enables smaller issuances without the pressure of meeting a minimum threshold. However, this raises concerns about potential market volatility due to smaller issue sizes and increased fragmentation. Careful analysis of the impact on market stability and investor appetite is crucial before widespread implementation.

Retention Limit and Listing Timelines

FTPI proposes a five-fold increase in the retention limit compared to regular public issues. This provides issuers with greater flexibility in capital allocation, allowing them to retain more funds for specific needs while still offering a portion to the public. This potential benefit comes with the trade-off of reduced public participation and liquidity in the secondary market. Striking the right balance between issuer benefits and market liquidity will be an ongoing challenge that requires careful calibration of the retention limit based on market feedback and performance data.

Faster listing timelines, with listing occurring just three days after issue closure compared to the usual six days, further enhance the FTPI framework. This expedites access to the secondary market, improving liquidity and potentially attracting a wider investor base. However, it remains to be seen whether this faster timeline will impact the quality of due diligence conducted by market participants before listing, potentially posing a risk to investor protection.

Cross-Jurisdictional Perspectives

The FTPI framework is a crucial initiative aimed at revitalizing the corporate debt market in India. The SEC’s shelf registration in the United States of America (“USA”) accelerates access, but it mainly depends on institutional investors, which contrasts with FTPI’s objective of engaging retail investors. The Prospectus Regulation of the European Union(“EU”) is in line with the disclosure streamlining of the regulations, which is a pain point in the proposed FTPI regulation. The Bond Grant Scheme in Singapore promotes cost reduction over expeditious fundraising, hence demonstrating a range of varied worldwide approaches. The concept of harmonization, as promoted by IOSCO, has potential, but the complex issues faced on a worldwide scale require careful equilibrium.

To address the shortcomings in the framework, the qualifying requirements should draw inspiration from the USA by placing greater emphasis on governance rather than the time of listing. The suggested retention limit gives rise to concerns, reflecting similar problems in the EU, and indicating the necessity for a well-balanced and hierarchical framework. To address the potential limitation on institutional participation caused by the shorter subscription period, it is necessary to implement arrangements similar to Singapore’s pre-announcement period. By incorporating these observations through analytical means, India has the potential to enhance the framework, thereby promoting a corporate debt market that is more comprehensive, adaptable, and internationally competitive.


To ameliorate the loopholes as identified in the proposed framework, the authors suggest a tripartite model.

The suggested tripartite model provides a deliberate and nuanced strategy to address inherent issues within the suggested framework. The change in eligibility requirements could be influenced by the USA’s Shelf Registration system and could be implemented to address the exclusion of smaller firms. This may be achieved by giving priority to governance procedures and financial soundness rather than focusing solely on a long listing history. The implementation of a tiered eligibility strategy enhances inclusivity by subjecting issuers with shorter listing histories to extra examination, hence reducing risk.

Aligning with the EU’s Prospectus Regulation, which adheres to international best practices, could be a way to demonstrate a commitment to achieving a careful balance between being concise and comprehensive in KIDs and GIDs to enhance comprehensive disclosure. Therefore, implementing a materiality assessment framework would help in not overwhelming investors while utilizing user-friendly formats highlighting the ability to adapt to current information consumption patterns.

The systematic approach to subscription durations and minimum requirements points towards a well-considered methodology. The implementation of a pre-announcement period, similar to Singapore’s Bond Grant Scheme, may recognize the prolonged decision-making process of institutional investors, thereby increasing their involvement. The suggested initial stage for eliminating the minimum subscription requirement for some firms demonstrates a prudent and regulated strategy, enabling careful observation of market stability and investor involvement. Implementing a flexible system to alter subscription durations may guarantee continuous adaptability to market feedback and the changing requirements of institutional investors.


The framework suggested by SEBI is a significant initiative aimed at tackling the issues affecting the Indian corporate debt market. It seeks to accelerate fundraising, expand investor involvement, and improve transparency and efficiency, recognizing the prevalence of private placements and minimal public engagement. Nevertheless, a thorough examination uncovers possible vulnerabilities in the criteria for qualification, channels for disclosure, durations of subscription, and minimal prerequisites. To tackle these problems, the suggested tripartite model proposes strategic modifications that draw inspiration from globally recognized best practices.

Dhaval Bothra & Rajdeep Bhattacharjee

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