• The Star Staff

India’s secondary listing plan for firms joining foreign markets irks investors, sources say

Indian companies that list overseas will have to later launch on a domestic bourse under policy changes being considered by government officials, sources told Reuters, a move that global investors fear will harm valuations.


India said in March it would allow local firms to directly list abroad to better access foreign capital for growth, but the rules have yet to be decided. Currently only certain types of securities such as depository receipts are able to be listed in foreign markets, and only after the companies go public in India.


The new policy, aimed at helping local firms achieve better valuations, could be a shot in the arm for Indian unicorn start-ups valued at over $1 billion and Reliance’s RELI.NS digital unit which is eyeing a U.S. listing after raising over $20 billion from global names like KKR & Co KKR.N.


But in recent weeks Indian officials told global investors and companies in meetings they were considering mandating a secondary listing for local companies on Indian bourses after they list abroad, five sources said.


The time period under consideration for such a requirement ranges from 6 months to 3 years, sources said.


A separate senior regulatory source in India said “dual listing was being considered by the (finance) ministry for sure,” but a final position on the matter has not been reached.


Japan’s SoftBank 9984.T and an Indian payment firm it backs, Paytm, as well as Reliance and U.S.-based Sequoia Capital have conveyed to the government the secondary listing provision risks splitting trading volumes, hurting long-term valuations and raising compliance needs and costs, the sources added.


“To require companies to subsequently list in India will make these rules meaningless,” said a senior executive working at a global venture-capital firm.


SoftBank and Sequoia have invested in various Indian firms like ride-hailing company Ola and hospitality firm Oyo. Foreign listings could provide exits for such investors at higher valuations but also allow Indian firms, especially from the tech sector, to access specialised investors abroad who can better value their companies.


The rules are being drafted by the finance and corporate affairs ministries, in discussion with the capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and will be finalised in coming weeks.


Spokespeople for SEBI and the two ministries did not respond to a request for comment. A SoftBank spokeswoman said “we never comment on confidential policy discussions”.

Sequoia, Paytm and Reliance did not respond to requests for a comment.

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