E-commerce firms lobby with Sebi to get IPO relaxation

New Delhi: To tap capital markets to raise funds, a number of e-commerce companies including start-ups are lobbying hard with Sebi to seek relaxation in IPO norms, but regulator is firm on measures to safeguard investors.

 E-commerce firms lobby with Sebi to get IPO relaxation

The Sebi logo. Image courtesy Sebi

Sebi is of the view that the investor interest is paramount in its regulatory regime and the norms, including for detailed disclosures and strong financial positions, are necessary to ensure safety of investors' money.

The firms providing internet-based services are, however, seeking relaxation on many of these norms, as most of them are start-ups and operate out of a digital landscape, while their valuations are mostly linked to future growth potential, a senior official said.

Representatives from the industry, along with some venture capitalists and private equity funds, recently met Sebi chairman UK Sinha and other top officials of the regulatory authority to present their case, he added.

Sebi is ready to provide an 'enabling environment' for prospective listings by companies with good track records, but it is averse to the idea of relaxations that could hamper investors' interests.

The regulator also wants many such companies to tap the SME platform of the stock exchanges to get listed for easier regulations, but most of the firms are eyeing big valuations and have told Sebi that they might have to go to the foreign markets for their listings.

The regulator is also in the process of framing norms for raising funds through crowd-sourcing and it feels that some small start-ups can tap that route as well.

One of the proposals include allowing easier norms for overseas entities to participate in such public offers, as also for enabling easier post-listing exit routes for the venture capital and private equity firms.

There have been reports that the largest Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart may look at the US market for its listing, while the closest listing that has taken place from this industry in India is JustDial.

Those lobbying for relaxation in the norms include iSpirit, a lobby group for the technology companies, which describes itself as "a think tank with a difference".

A clutch of e-commerce firms from India have raised venture capital funding with the sector expected to grow at a scorching pace.

Last year, e-commerce giant Alibaba raised $25 billion in the world's biggest initial public offering about 15 years after the Chinese firm was founded in 1999.

As per its website, iSpirit aims to "convert ideas into policy proposals to take to government stakeholders" and as part of its advocacy efforts they "explain, educate and inform government policy makers and other policy bodies that a vibrant software product industry is vital to India's future".

One of its senior advisors include Mohandas Pai, who was a Director of Infosys and has also served as a Member on Sebi board in the past. Besides, he has been on various important panels, including as Chairman of Sebi's Primary Markets Advisory Committee (PMAC).


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Updated Date: Mar 18, 2015 22:29:58 IST