A major initiative is the optional grading of initial public offers (IPOs). While Sebi chairman M Damodaran did say that nothing prevented the regulator from making this mandatory, Sebi probably wants to give companies some leeway and see how they move towards this self-appraisal route. A grading of IPOs would arm the common shareholder with enough knowledge to empower him to take the right decision, as the market once again begins witnessing a rush of new issues. A typical problem with IPOs has always been the lack of adequate information for the investor and grading is the right step in such a situation.
By raising the cut-off limit for biometric registration under the MAPIN scheme from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh (the limit to be reduced progressively), the regulator has addressed the concerns raised. At the same time, it has ensured a clear audit trail of trades even between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, since investors have the option of quoting either their permanent account numbers (Pan) or their unique identification numbers (UIN) in such cases. At a time when concerns are raised regularly over the quality of transactions in the equity markets, the move can only strengthen the hands of stock exchanges and minimise fraudulent and benami trades. By allowing the introduction of gold exchange traded funds (GETFs), the regulator has also recognised the potential of leveraging Indias enormous holdings of the precious metal. India is the biggest storehouse of gold in the world and this move will highlight gold as an alternative investment option. Clearly, Sebi has its agenda for the new year all charted.