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SEBI’s New Guidelines on Draft Offer Documents: Enhancing Transparency and Efficiency

By - King Stubb & Kasiva on February 21, 2024

In a significant move to bolster transparency and efficiency in India’s primary market, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) has recently introduced new guidelines for the return and resubmission of draft offer documents.[1] Timely processing and comprehensive disclosures are crucial elements in maintaining the vibrancy of the primary market. SEBI’s latest guidelines aim to ensure that offer documents filed by issuers and lead managers align with the regulatory standards outlined in Schedule VI of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2018 (“ICDR Regulations”).

Identifying Challenges

SEBI’s decision to issue these guidelines stems from observations that draft offer documents filed for public or rights issues of securities often fall short of complying with Schedule VI of the ICDR Regulations. Non-compliance frequently necessitates revisions, leading to prolonged processing times. In response, SEBI has taken a proactive stance by introducing comprehensive guidelines for the return and resubmission of draft offer documents.

Key Aspects of the Guidelines

Scrutiny and Return

  • Draft offer documents will undergo meticulous scrutiny based on the comprehensive guidelines specified in Annexure A of the circular.
  • Documents found to be non-compliant with Schedule VI of the ICDR Regulations and the provided guidelines will be promptly returned to the issuer and lead manager(s) for requisite revisions.

Broad Guidelines for Returning

  • Emphasis is placed on ensuring clarity, conciseness, and intelligibility in the language used within the draft offer document.
  • Complex presentations, vague explanations, and inconsistencies in information are to be avoided to enhance investor comprehension.
  • Risk factors must be articulated in clear and unambiguous terms, elucidating potential risks to investors effectively.

Reasons for Return

  • Substantial revisions or addenda may be required to address key disclosures.
  • Corrective measures may be necessitated due to varied interpretations of regulatory provisions.
  • Clarity must be ensured in the draft offer document without necessitating a referral to general rules and regulations.
  • Compliance concerns raised by other regulatory authorities or enforcement agencies will merit attention.
  • Pending litigation matters impacting eligibility criteria must be duly addressed.

Resubmission Process

  • Issuers will not incur fees for the resubmission of draft offer documents, aiming to facilitate ease of business operations.
  • However, applicable fees for changes specified in Schedule XVI of ICDR Regulations for the updated offer document will be enforced.
  • Non-refundable filing fees will apply in cases of non-submission following document return.

Issuer Obligations

  • Issuers are mandated to make a public announcement of resubmission within two days, adhering to prescribed modes and manners under ICDR Regulations.
  • Written intimation to sectoral regulators about the return and resubmission is imperative.
  • Resubmission will only be permitted following the comprehensive addressing of identified insufficiencies.

Looking Forward and Conclusion

SEBI’s issuance of guidelines for the returning and resubmission of draft offer documents marks a strategic initiative aimed at enhancing transparency and efficiency within India’s primary market. The scrutiny advocated by SEBI underscores a resolute commitment to maintaining and upholding rigorous regulatory standards. The expeditious return of non-compliant documents not only mitigates potential risks associated with incomplete disclosures but also serves to reinforce investor confidence in the market’s regulatory framework.

The guidelines exhibit precision in their focus on language clarity and concise presentations, signaling an intent to improve investor comprehension. Moreover, the specific criteria set for articulating risk factors indicate a strategic commitment to clear and unambiguous communication, fostering a more informed investment decision-making process.

Going beyond mere regulatory compliance, the detailed reasons provided for returning documents highlight a commitment to coherence and consistency in information disclosure. Addressing concerns raised by other regulatory authorities showcases a holistic regulatory approach, further reinforcing SEBI’s dedication to market integrity. The decision to waive fees for resubmission, coupled with retaining non-refundable filing fees for non-submission after return, creates a balanced environment, encouraging disciplined compliance while alleviating the financial burden on issuers.

Mandating timely public announcements and regulator intimation demonstrates a commitment to transparency, ensuring that stakeholders are kept informed of market developments. Requiring issuers to comprehensively address identified insufficiencies before resubmission adds a layer of rigor, ensuring that revised documents align seamlessly with regulatory requirements. In conclusion, SEBI’s strategic approach signifies a significant stride towards a more resilient, transparent, and investor-friendly securities market in India. As market participants adapt, a positive impact on efficiency and integrity is anticipated, setting the stage for a strengthened and attractive primary market ecosystem.


King Stubb & Kasiva,
Advocates & Attorneys

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