Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dance of the bands

SEBI lifts price bands for non-IPO listings here.

Currently, the stock exchanges impose a price band on first day of trading / resumption of trading post corporate actions like merger, de-merger, capital reduction, CDR / capital restructuring, revocation of suspension, direct listing on another exchange etc. Now SEBI feels that in such cases there is no need for price bands because they restrict normal price discovery.

This has been my pet peeve too. Why not open up price bands for IPO as well? SEBI has been mulling over this for quite some time. In a free market, nobody can wish away volatility and price discovery can only be a function of demand and supply. There could be scope for manipulation by some operators but their span of control is limited. Driving the stock prices up or down by artificial intervention of operators come at a high cost and associated risk. The best way is to let a few players suffer the carnage. Mostly these operators are funded by promoters of companies to see their net worth zoom on the listing day. When a few get scalded, caution will rule and normalcy shall prevail. Allow some casualties.

It also seeks to extinguish the perilous grey market for securities – regarded as one of the primary concerns of Mr.C.B.Bhave, the new SEBI chief as soon as he assumed office recently. He seems to be a fast cat, having already enabled short selling by acting out lending and borrowing mechanism. Now it’s time he pays attention to my no-band philosophy on IPO price discovery as well.
Who is SEBI trying to protect? The small investor? Nobody is a saint. Everyone big or small, comes here because she is greedy. Regulation is welcome to the extent anarchy doesn't get a reception. Taking regulation too far by imposing price bands is meddling. Let the markets rule.

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