With the BSE indicating that it can pose a serious threat and the MCX group waiting to enter the equity space, the NSE now has to gear up for some tough competition
To those who only watch television, it may seem as if the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) took a lot of flak for triggering a controversy with its decision to extend trading time by a token 10 minutes. But appearances can be deceptive. In fact, the broking community is delighted at the BSE's new aggression; although the National Stock Exchange’s (NSE) near monopoly ensures that nobody wants to go public with their view yet. While the support will count only when it translates into increased volumes, the BSE already has a lot going for it because almost all the brokers that matter now hold shares in the bourse. As the head of one major brokerage firm said, "We want the BSE on top again; after all, we hold shares in the BSE, not the NSE.” Another leading brokerage firm with a long history with the BSE is also advising team-Kannan on how to take on the competition and prepare for its listing.
Hindi Chini bhai-bhai
We learn that the BSE extended trading time by 10 minutes only after consulting its members and explaining to them the strategy of creating a little buzz for its new derivatives trading by this gesture. This apparently included a rousing little speech and a lot of cheering by the members and references to how the days of "Hindi-Chini bhai bhai" (alluding to the infamous slogan of the Nehru era that lulled India into believing that China was a close friend and ally until it declared war on an unprepared nation). Of course, all this was forgotten under the onslaught of the vicious media attack, when NSE decided to extend trading by an hour and forced the BSE to revise its plan.
The new team at the BSE, led by Madhu Kannan, is also doing things differently. While the top four have come with formidable global or technical experience, they have quickly given up their rarefied offices with spectacular views on the 25th floor of the Jeejeebhoy Towers. Instead, they have opted for smaller office spaces on the 13th floor, in order to be in the middle of all the action. They also work long hours, often coming into office before 8.30am.
Another major plus for the BSE is the new profile it presents to the regulator as well as the public. In SEBI meetings, the entire BSE team is knowledgeable and articulate and the NSE (National Stock Exchange) is no longer able to dominate discussions or be the only one able to provide background and inputs. Their willingness to take on the NSE, directly and publicly, is like a breath of fresh air.
James Shapiro, a key member of Madhu Kannan's team and his former boss at the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) set the cat among the pigeons by openly discussing NSE's little trick of rejecting applications for algorithm trading. The NSE is clearly caught by surprise. It has always operated through quiet, informal and off-the-record interactions and in its recent, 'master of the universe' phase, even refused to respond to queries on its anti-competition strategies, especially with regard to MCX. But all of a sudden, NSE's managing director Ravi Narain is more accessible, at least to what is perceived as friendly media. The bourse itself is seen struggling to change its DNA and be more friendly with brokers and other intermediaries.
James Shapiro is a veteran of such battles. He is calm, extremely articulate and fluent in Japanese and Chinese. We can surely expect a lot more frank-speaking from him in the coming days.
For those of us who have covered the media for decades, the capital market space had turned extremely dull with NSE's near monopoly. With BSE indicating that it can pose a serious threat and the MCX group waiting to enter the equity space, the war of the bourses is promising to provide plenty of media fodder. Things will intensify when BSE and MCX get listed, because the analyst community will start tracking the exchange space. Although the NSE has no plans for listing just yet, it is bound to face pressure from its shareholders. One thing seems certain, it can no longer operate with the same secrecy that it did for the first 15 years of its existence.
The Delhi High Court was hearing Microsoft Corporation's plea against four different defendants, alleging violation of copyright. The court ruled that Microsoft had selected a court which was so far away from each of the defendants that it was a “harassment for the defendant(s)” to contest the suit itself
The Delhi High Court has asked Microsoft Corporation to cough up Rs800,000 ($16,000) for opting to fight four copyright violation cases in the Indian capital, even though these cases had originated in other cities.
The order came after the court found that the alleged violations occurred in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Mumbai.
Not only did the court note that Microsoft had offices in these cities, but it also said that the company was using "money power" to "harass" the defendants, who would have to travel to Delhi to fight the cases. Another reason why Microsoft was found to have chosen the Capital to fight the cases was that the Delhi High Court has the jurisdiction to order compensation of up to Rs20 lakh.
"When the Constitution of India provides equality before law, this equality has to be all-pervasive and cannot be allowed to be diluted because of money power or lobbying power," said Justice SN Dhingra in his order. "One cannot be given liberty to choose a court of his liking because of his money power. There should be one definite court where the suit can be filed by everybody and one cannot hire the services of the court of his choice," the Judge said.
The court was hearing Microsoft Corporation's plea against four different defendants, alleging violation of copyright on grounds of suspicion that they were using pirated software.
Microsoft said that it was fighting the cases in New Delhi as it has its office in based in New Delhi. However, the court told Microsoft if it wanted the cases to be heard here, it would have to deposit a sum of Rs2,00,000 per case as a security cost. The amount will be kept with the registrar general of the Delhi High Court till the final disposal of the four cases. It will be given to the defendants if the cases are found to be false.
The court also appointed a local commissioner to probe the allegations. All the expenses of the local commissioner, including his fees, which is Rs25,000 per day, will have to be incurred by the multinational company.
Terming Microsoft's act as “harassment for the opposite party”, the court said, "Given the present interpretation of a section of the Copyright Act, a multinational company having its office within the same district where the case of action arose, defendant resided and where witnesses would be there and (where) it is convenient for the court as well as for the parties to contest the suit, may refuse to file the suit in that State court and choose a distant court faraway from the office of the defendant.
"But on the strength of its money power it has the added advantage of choosing a court of its own liking which is so far away from the defendant that it becomes problematic and a harassment for the defendant to contest the suit itself."
The next hearing is scheduled on 18 January 2010.
SEBI failed to regulate the Osian Art Fund under its regulations covering Collective Investment Schemes, despite its own advisory against unregulated art funds in 2008
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has a mandate to regulate what are called as collective investment schemes (CIS), which pool together investors’ money to invest in a variety of schemes.
However, SEBI failed to regulate the Osian Art Fund under CIS regulations. Though SEBI issued an advisory against unregistered art funds in 2008, it failed to regulate the Osian Art Fund, which was the first fund among the unregulated art funds which were floated during that time.
In October 1999, SEBI had formulated the CIS regulations which stated that “any person proposing to carry any activity as a Collective Investment Management Company on or after the commencement of these regulations shall make an application to the Board for the grant of registration in Form A.”
Clearly, under this rule, Osian Art Fund, which pooled investors’ money to invest in art, was supposed to be regulated by SEBI.
However, the Osian Art Fund was not regulated by—or registered with—any regulatory body. Excerpts from the 5th six-monthly disclosure report prepared by the Fund, reveal the entire story. Osian Art Fund was launched in 2006 and was served a show-cause notice by SEBI in November 2007 asking as to why the Fund should not be regulated. Osian had a hearing with SEBI later in 2008. However, in both instances, SEBI did not revert with any further communication. This shows a shocking derecliction of the implementation of SEBI’s regulatory process.
In its ‘risk factors’ section of the six-monthly report, Osian Art Fund stated that, “On 12 October 2007, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”), the Indian securities market regulator, issued a show-cause notice (“Notice”) to Osian’s–Connoisseurs of Art Private Limited, the asset management company of the fund, seeking an explanation as to why the Art Fund should not be regulated in terms of the SEBI (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 1999 (“CIS Regulations”)”.
Osian claims to have submitted a detailed response in December 2007 to the show-cause notice.
However, after this response, the Osian report claims, there was no further communication from SEBI. “As the duly appointed trustee of the Art Fund, Oseta Investment Trustee Co. Pvt Limited (“Oseta”) submitted a detailed response to the Notice on 21 December 2007. SEBI has not reverted to Oseta with any further queries, concerns or directions on this issue as of date,” the report further stated. This report was released in February 2009.
Later, in a press release dated 13 February 2008, posted on SEBI’s official website, SEBI advised investors with regard to their investments in art funds. The press release stated that “SEBI has advised investors with regard to their investments in “Art Funds” that “Art Funds” are “Collective Investment Schemes” as defined under the SEBI Act. However, no entity has registered with SEBI, under the SEBI (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations.” The press release further stated that “launching or floating of “Art Funds” or Schemes without obtaining registration from SEBI amounts to violation of the SEBI Act and Regulations. Appropriate actions, civil and criminal, under the SEBI Act may be taken by SEBI against such funds/companies.”
Followed by this new advisory, Osian was granted an opportunity for a hearing before the whole-time director of SEBI on 5 September 2008. Again, there was no further communication from SEBI after the hearing.
“Osian presented the case to SEBI through its legal galaxy, explained their viewpoint at length on legal as well as industry-specific issues and made submissions; since then, there has been no further communication from SEBI. No directions for registration under the CIS Regulations have been issued to the Art Fund or Oseta Investment Trustee Co. Pvt. Ltd. as of date,” stated Osian’s six-monthly report released in February 2009. Concerned officials from Osian and SEBI did not respond to the email sent by Moneylife on this issue.