Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Issuers should take Merchant Bankers to task

Talk of clumsy merchant banker allowing semantic distortions and when hauled up by SEBI, refuses to yield. Outcome? Botched business plans of issuers!

SVPCL, a Hyderabad based manufacturer of computer stationery floated its IPO in October last year, and raised Rs 34.5 crore. Though the issue was fully subscribed, BSE denied permission for the shares to be listed on the exchange because of an apparent misstatement in DRHP. This was because UTI Securities, the lead merchant banker responsible for post-issue compliances, had expressed its inability to give an undertaking as required by BSE under Section 73 of the Companies Act, 1956.

The IPO, which got subscribed little over one time, was stalled after BSE refused listing permission as the company had inadvertently mentioned on the cover page of its red-herring prospectus that at least 50% of the net issue to the public shall be allocated on proportionate basis to QIB. The legally appropriate term to be used was ‘up to’, and not ‘at least’.

Why not the merchant banker be hauled up for errant drafting that they do? Should they not make it up to the issuers? Who is responsible for semantic distortions creeping into DRHP?

What else the issuer pays fee to the merchant bankers for? If they were to draft it, why would they hire a merchant banker? The CFO and Company Secretary can sit together with lawyers and bring about even an IPO, except that SEBI mandates appointment of Merchant Bankers. Now that it has lost the case against the exchange, SVPCL must file proceedings against UTI securities for refund of fees and for damages...

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