AuthorUmakanth Varottil

Corporate Governance and Sustainability

Professor Vikramaditya Khanna has authored the latest edition of the NSE Quarterly Briefing titled “Global Asset Managers and the Rise of Long Term Sustainable Value”. The executive summary is as follows: – The largest global asset managers (e.g., BlackRock, State Street) have stated that long term sustainable value (LTSV) is their key goal with respect to the firms in which they invest...

Forum for Adjudicating Disputes Regarding Allotment of Shares

The issue of whether a civil court or the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has jurisdiction over disputes regarding allotment of shares in a company came up for consideration before the Delhi High Court in SAS Hospitality Pvt Ltd v Surya Constructions Pvt Ltd. In its order dated 16 October 2018, the Court found that the NCLT has exclusive jurisdiction over such a dispute. The plaintiff, SAS...

The IL&FS Crisis: Lessons in Governance

The situation involving the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) has raised a number of questions revolving around corporate governance. Are governance failures to blame for the predicament in which the company finds itself? A lot has been said about the role of independent directors, nominee directors, auditors and credit rating agencies. However, one aspect that is...

Essar Steel Case: Supreme Decodes Section 29A of the IBC

Background In its ruling in ArcelorMittal India Private Limited v. Satish Kumar Gupta, the Supreme Court has laid down the much-needed jurisprudence involving section 29A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. Section 29A was inserted in the Code with effect from 23 November 2017 and has been the subject matter of at least two rounds of amendments thereafter. The provision makes ineligible...

Calcutta High Court Allows Trial Against Directors of a Mutual Fund Trustee Company

It is well-known that directors of a mutual fund trustee company carry onerous responsibilities, both under the Companies Act, 2013 as well as the SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996. The trustee company of a mutual fund and its directors are responsible for ensuring that transactions carried out by the fund are in accordance with the relevant regulations. This is despite the fact that the day...

The Influence of Foreign Investors and Proxy Advisory Firms on Corporate Governance

Institutional investors have begun taking an active role in companies that have dispersed shareholding. This played out demonstrably in the case of HDFC in July when the chairman Mr. Deepak Parekh retained his position in the company by a narrow margin. This was attributable to a number of foreign institutional investors having voted against his continuation in the company. They did so on the...

Madras High Court Grants Reprieve to Disqualified Directors

The Madras High Court in Bhagavan Das Dhananjay Das v. Union of India (decided on 3 August 2018 and accessible via Judis) struck down the order of the Registrar of Companies, Chennai (“RoC) which had disqualified a number of directors from their position in various companies. The Court was considering a large group of writ petitions that various disqualified directors had filed before it. In...

Delhi High Court Circumscribes SEBI’s Power to Initiate Adjudication Proceedings

Independent regulators must demonstrate their independence and fairness in their actions in order to maintain credibility. For this, the process by which they carry out their actions must be robust. This applies equally to India’s securities regulator, SEBI, which is the earliest independent regulator in the post-liberalisation era and one that heralded the advent of an array of similar...

SEBI on “Control”: Financing vs. Acquisition

Background and Context Under the SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 and its previous version of 1997, it is possible for a person to trigger the mandatory takeover offer requirement even without acquiring a single share in the company. This is because the person may be in “control” of the company as defined in the Takeover Regulations, which is determined...

SEBI Order in the USL Case: Lessons on Tunneling

In countries that are replete with corporate group structures (as in India), it is common to find transactions between a company on the one hand and a counterparty that has some relationship with it on the other. Referred to as a related party transaction (RPT), this could generate benefits if carried out on an arm’s length basis. At the same time, RPTs can be used to divert wealth from listed...

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