Govt discusses listing, profit norms for stock exchanges

There was a general consensus about allowing the stock exchanges to get listed, improving the efficiency and transparency in their business and allowing greater competition in the business However, there was no unanimity on the Jalan panel's proposal for capping the profitability and for the shareholding pattern of the exchanges

New Delhi: The government on Friday discussed with the stock exchanges the long-pending proposals made by a Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)-appointed panel for sweeping changes on how the bourses should be owned and run, reports PTI.

The committee, headed by former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Bimal Jalan, had submitted its report to the market regulator SEBI in November last year.

The report recommended capping the stock exchanges' profitability and barring them from getting listed to safeguard their role as a front-line regulatory body.

The proposals have been pending for about a year now and were deliberated here in a discussion amongst the senior finance ministry officials and the top executives of various stock exchanges, including NSE, BSE and MCX-SX.

Among others, economic affairs secretary R Gopalan, joint secretary (capital markets) Thomas Mathew and Mr Jalan expressed their views on the matter.

Sources said there was a general consensus about allowing the stock exchanges to get listed, improving the efficiency and transparency in their business and allowing greater competition in the business.

It was felt that listing of the exchanges could lead to better corporate governance practises at the bourses.

The government officials are believed to have said the issue needs to be tackled carefully and a calibrated approach was required before allowing the listing.

Sources said many of the participants, including government officials and industry executives, suggested segregating the regulatory and business roles of the bourses before their listing.

It was discussed that either the regulatory role could be entirely vested with the market regulator SEBI, or the exchanges' regulatory powers could be partly divided between SEBI and a new Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO) formed with representation from various industry players.

However, there was no unanimity on the Jalan panel's proposal for capping the profitability and for the shareholding pattern of the exchanges.

One of the options, proposed by an exchange, included allowing the exchanges to have an anchor investor with up to 26% stake, while the other options were for having a more diversified shareholding and following the global models.

The senior government officials are believed to have opined that the issue of conflict of interest required to be tackled and one of the options could be hiving off the regulatory and surveillance functions of the exchanges to the outside agencies or SROs.

Even Mr Jalan is said to be of the opinion that the listing of stock exchanges was a completely open question, but any changes in existing regulators required to be tackled carefully as the markets were going through uncertain times.

The Jalan Committee, set up in January 2010, for review of ownership and governance norms for market infrastructure institutions, submitted its report to SEBI in November last year. The latter then invited comments on it till 31st December.

The proposals generated intense debate and proposals like non-listing of bourses and cap on profitability were opposed and termed as anti-investor measures.

In the wake of stiff opposition to the proposals, SEBI later put the ball in the government's court.

Thereafter, a committee was set up by the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) to discuss the proposed rules, which held its consultations in May.

In its meeting with the representatives from the bourses, industry bodies, accounting bodies and other market entities, the MCA sought suggestions on a roadmap for segregation of regulatory and commercial roles of the exchanges.

It was proposed that steps need to be taken to keep the front-line regulatory role of the bourses unaffected by their profit-making and other business interests after they become publicly held companies following their listing.

On its part, the SEBI board has not even discussed the matter in its last few board meetings as it was waiting for suggestions from the government on the contentious issues emanating from the Jalan Committee proposals.

It is expected that the matter could come up for the SEBI board's consideration in its next meeting, once the government takes a final view after consultations with various parties.

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Labour unrest at Maruti’s Manesar plant ends

Under the agreement signed between the company's management and the striking employees, the company agreed to conditionally take back 18 trainees who were suspended. However, it said it would not take back the 44 regular employees against whom disciplinary action was taken and that they would be under suspension

New Delhi: The over a month long standoff between the management and workers of Maruti Suzuki India's Manesar plant ended on Friday following talks brokered by the Haryana government, reports PTI.

In an agreement, the workers agreed to sign the contentious good conduct bond laid down by the management.

Under the agreement, the company agreed to conditionally take back 18 trainees who were suspended. However, it said it would not take back the 44 regular employees against whom disciplinary action was taken and that they would be under suspension.

"This reinforces the management's position that indiscipline is not acceptable. The agreement will create a conducive environment for the company's growth and the workers' prosperity," a company official who took part in the talks told PTI.

Asked what action would be taken against the suspended employees, the official said, "Law will take its course."

The talks were brokered by the Haryana government with officials, including deputy labour commissioner JP Mann, assistant labour commissioner Nitin Yadav and Gurgaon district commissioner PC Meena, involved in hectic negotiations.

Later, Haryana minister for labour and employment Shiv Charan Lal Sharma also joined the talks held at Gurgaon.

As per the agreement, no work no pay policy would be implemented for the standoff period.

Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union (MUKU) had represented the Manesar plant workers during the negotiations as the management refused to talk directly to the rebel body, Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU). Some representatives of MSEU were however present during the talks.

The MSI management and workers have been locked in a standoff since 29th August, when the management prevented workers from entering the factory premises unless they signed a 'good conduct' bond, after alleged sabotage and deliberate compromise on the quality of cars being produced.

The bond required the workers to declare they would "not resort to go slow, intermittent stoppage of work, stay-in- strike, work-to-rule, sabotage or otherwise indulge in any activity, which would hamper normal production in the factory".

The workers had refused to sign the bond.

In support of their colleagues at MSI's Manesar plant, workers at three factories operated by two of Japan's Suzuki Motor Corporation's subsidiaries located in the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt-Suzuki Powertrain India and Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd-went on a two day strike earlier this month.

Three workers of Manesar plant were arrested for inciting violence but were later released on bail during the standoff, which had severely affected production at the plant.

The company has, however, brought it to almost normal levels during the month by bringing additional workforce.

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SEBI revises bidding norms for FIIs in infra bonds

As per SEBI's revised guidelines that were announced on Friday, no single FII shall be allocated more than Rs2,000 crore of the investment limit against the existing Rs10,000 crore. The market regulator has also reduced the minimum bid size to Rs50 crore from the existing Rs250 crore

New Delhi: Revising its norms for foreign institutional investors (FIIs) in infrastructure debt bonds, the capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Friday lowered the minimum bidding and allocation amounts for such investors, reports PTI.

As per the revised guidelines, no single FII shall be allocated more than Rs2,000 crore of the investment limit against the existing Rs10,000 crore.

The market regulator has also reduced the minimum bid size to Rs50 crore from the existing Rs250 crore, a SEBI circular said.

Recently, the government allowed FIIs to invest up to $5 billion in infrastructure bonds with reduction of lock-in period to one year from earlier three years.

Subsequently, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) will hold the bidding process for the allocation of entire $5 billion on 7 October 2011.

These revised norms are likely to attract a higher number of FIIs into the infrastructure bond segment.

Despite the last budget announcement of raising investment limit to $25 billion from $5 billion earlier, there was cold response from FIIs to such bonds.

By the end of 31 August 2011, investments by FIIs were only $109 million, or around Rs500 crore, against a ceiling of $25 billion, or Rs112,095 crore.

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