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Sovereign funds can buy up to 20% stake in Indian firms: Sebi

The capital market regulator has allowed foreign governments to buy a maximum of 20 per cent stake in any listed company without any additional obligations.

twitter-logo PTI   New Delhi     Last Updated: April 19, 2011  | 14:55 IST

In a move that will enable foreign governments to make more investments in Indian stocks, capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has allowed them to buy a maximum of 20 per cent stake in any listed company without any additional obligations.

The proposed threshold of 20 per cent is twice the current limit of 10 per cent, beyond which sovereign wealth funds, or investment arms of foreign governments need to make an open offer for buying any additional stake.

Sebi, which will grant any such approval on case-by-case basis, has also sought changes in the relevant central government regulations about foreign investments, said a senior official.

A proposal to this effect was approved at a Sebi board meeting on March 25 and the new guidelines would be announced soon, he added.

BT PERSPECTIVE:

Bring on the greenbacks

Sovereign funds under the lens
The move, which would classify various funds of a single country as different entities and not as a single group, is primarily aimed at removing regulatory hurdles for sovereign wealth funds of the countries with whom India has signed Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreements (CECA).

Some of the major countries to benefit from the move include Singapore, whose two investment arms Temasek and GIC have heavily invested in Indian companies and often face problems in buying shares beyond the current limits.

The new rules would not equate sovereign funds as any other foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and give them a preferential treatment.

"Sovereign wealth funds invest in India via the foreign institutional investment route and/or through foreign direct investment/ foreign venture capital route.

"For this purpose, at times these funds use multiple investment vehicles (two to three), which may differ in terms of investment objective and structure," a Sebi board memorandum said.

"Having regard to this, one CECA signed by India recognises such investment vehicles of the Sovereign as independent of each other for the purposes of application of the Sebi rules, regulations and guidelines," it added.

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