Markets regulator Sebi is considering to revisit its directive on ‘loan default disclosure’, which will make it mandatory for listed companies to inform stock exchanges about such issues as soon as they occur. Besides, the markets watchdog is expected to appraise its board about its probe into circulation of unpublished price sensitive information about various listed companies through WhatsApp messages and other private social media groups. These issues would be discussed during the board meeting of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) this week, senior officials said. The board will also consider whether the insider trading norms need to be tweaked to tackle such information leaks, they added. Sebi has already launched a probe after reports recently indicated that price sensitive information relating to major companies listed in Indian stock exchanges were being circulated in WhatsApp groups, prior to the public announcement of quarterly results.
Circulation of unpublished price sensitive information and trading based on such information in the securities market is prohibited under the Sebi Insider Trading Regulations.
Last week, the regulator had conducted searches at premises of more than 30 market analysts and dealers and seized documents, computers, mobiles and laptops. This is one of the biggest operations since Sebi got the search and seizure powers. The markets watchdog is looking to frame a new plan for listed companies to disclose loan defaults to exchanges as soon as they occur, officials said.
Earlier, Sebi had put off implementation of its directive “until further notice” that required listed firms to inform exchanges if they default on loan payments to banks and financial institutions, just a day before it was supposed to be implemented on October 1. Sebi Chief Ajay Tyagi had said the directive was put on hold after banks had asked for more time as the Indian credit market was different from its Western counterparts where such a disclosure is mandatory.
In August, the regulator had directed listed companies to disclose from October 1 any payment defaults to banks and financial institutions within one working day of such a miss. The move came against the backdrop of the government and the Reserve Bank of India stepping up efforts to tackle the menace of bad loans amounting to over Rs 8 lakh crore.