TagESOPs

ESOP Shares and the Computation of Open Offer Triggers

Under the SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (“Takeover Regulations”), an acquirer must make a mandatory open offer to acquire the shares of the remaining shareholders when the acquirer acquires shares (with voting rights) beyond prescribed thresholds. Since the triggers are based on the acquisition of shares with voting rights, questions could arise whether...

Cashless Employee Stock Option Scheme and Insider Trading Regulations

Last year, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) issued a guidance note clarifying certain matters regarding employee stock option plans (ESOPs) and their implications under the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (the “Insider Trading Regulations”). Specifically, it stated that the “contra-trade” restrictions do not apply to the exercise of stock options by...

SEBI’s Guidance Note on Insider Trading Regulations

After the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (the “Regulations”) were issued that came into effect on May 15, 2015, SEBI received several requests from companies and their advisors on certain operational issues that came to the fore in the implementation of the Regulations. In order to address those, SEBI issued a Guidance Note earlier this week. One of the more prominent...

SEBI Regulations Inapplicable to “Phantom” Stock Schemes

The SEBI (Share Based Employee Benefits) Regulations, 2014 (the “Regulations”) regulate various types of schemes offered by companies to their employees relating to shares. In two separate letters issued pursuant to requests for informal guidance, SEBI has stated that the Regulations are not applicable to phantom stock options and similar schemes that do not involve the actual issue or transfer...

Vexed issue of allowability/quantification/timing of expenditure on ESOPs

A troublesome issue for companies is the deductibility of ESOPs expenditure under the Income-tax Act, 1961. ESOPs (employees stock options/shares) are often given at a discount at their fair value. A share having a fair value of Rs. 100 is given, say, at Rs. 80. This is one extreme of a simple example. In practice, ESOPs are even more complicated with different features such as of vesting...

Review of Stock-Related Employee Benefit Schemes

The legal regime pertaining to the grant of employee stock options (ESOPs) and employee share purchases (ESPSs) has been undergoing some change in recent years, particularly for those that are implemented through a trust established by a company for this purpose. In August 2012, SEBI announced its decision requiring all listed companies to frame employee benefit schemes only in accordance with...

Prohibition on Acquisition of Shares by Employee Trusts

One of the decisions taken at SEBI’s board meeting escaped attention until some recent discussion in the financial press (here and here). The relevant paragraph in SEBI’s press release is as follows: Listed entities shall frame employee benefit schemes only in accordance with SEBI (ESOS and ESPS) Guidelines, 1999.  Entities whose schemes are not in conformity with the same would be given...

IPO Lock-in on ESOP Shares

SEBI recently issued an informal guidance to clarify that in the case of an IPO only shares held by employees of the company or other qualifying group entities (such as a holding company) are entitled to exemption from the one-year lock-in period on pre-existing share capital. Specifically, employees who are no longer in employment of the company at the time of the IPO would be subject to the one...

‘Sweat Equity’ vs. ‘Sweet Equity’ – a Legal Perspective

(In the following post, Rohan Bagai analyzes the regulations relating to ‘sweat equity’ under Indian company law in the light of recent events surrounding the Indian Premier League. Rohan is a corporate lawyer at one of the leading law firms in India. He holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from New York University School of Law (NYU), New York with a specialization in corporate laws) The recent...

SEBI informal guidance – ESOP, Insider Trading and independent directors

The SEBI recently issued an informal guidance note on matters relevant to companies which are in the process of devising employee share option plans (ESOPs). A company contemplating an ESOP in accordance with the SEBI (ESOP and ESPS) Guidelines, 1999 wished to form an employee welfare trust to grant options to eligible employees and desired to appoint its Independent Directors as trustees of the...

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