Sebi relaxes NRI depository receipts norms

Sebi gives certain relaxations to NRIs on holding depository receipts

Representative image. Credit: Reuters Photo

Markets regulator Sebi on Friday gave certain relaxations to non-resident Indians in respect of holding of depository receipts (DRs) issued by India-listed companies.

NRIs can now hold DRs issued by the company under the employee stock option schemes, bonus issue and rights issue, the regulator said.

In October 2019, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) barred NRIs from buying DRs issued by India-listed companies.

This restriction will not apply in the case of issue of DRs to NRIs, pursuant to share-based employee benefit schemes that are implemented by a company in terms of Sebi (Share Based Employee Benefits) rules, the regulator said in a circular on Friday.

In addition, the restriction would also not apply in the case of issue of DRs by the company to NRIs following a bonus issue or a rights issue, it added.

"Except as permitted under the provisos above, NRIs shall neither subscribe to any further issue of DRs nor make any further acquisition of DRs (including of DRs issued prior to October 10, 2019)," Sebi clarified.

It further said the onus of identification of NRI holders, who are issued DRs in terms employee benefit scheme, would lie with the listed company.

The company would provide the information of such NRI DR holders to the designated depository for the purpose of monitoring of limits, Sebi said.

Depository receipt is a foreign currency-denominated instrument, listed on an international exchange, issued by a foreign depository to a domestic custodian and includes global depository receipts (GDRs).

"The recent circular of Sebi providing clarification on the framework for issuance of DRs provides a breather for companies exploring listing/listed in overseas exchanges and compensating their employees with ESOPS or announcing bonus/rights to existing shareholders," said Divam Sharma, co-founder at Green Portfolio, a Sebi-registered portfolio management services firm.

Considering that many shareholders of these companies remain resident Indians or NRIs, this clarification gives them access to the DR route for being compensated as an employee or early investor with the company, he added.

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