In a significant move, Sebi Tuesday said it would soon come out with revised KYC norms for foreign investors and also allow overseas entities to trade in the commodity derivatives market. Foreign entities with exposure to the Indian physical commodity market would be allowed to trade in the commodity derivatives segment, Sebi Chairman Ajay Tyagi told reporters here. Such foreign entities would be allowed to hedge their exposures with derivatives trading in all commodities traded on Indian exchanges, barring sensitive commodities.
Besides, Sebi’s board, during its meeting here, has cleared a proposal to introduce a common application form for foreign investors to enter into the domestic capital market. The move expected to improve ease of doing business. Tyagi said that the proposed Know Your Client (KYC) requirements and eligibility conditions for Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) were discussed by the board. The discussions came against the backdrop of the circular issued on April 10, 2018 and the recommendations of the Working Group headed by former RBI Deputy Governor H R Khan.
“The proposed draft circular and proposed amendments in Sebi (FPI) Regulations, 2014 were discussed by the board and broadly agreed upon. The revised circular, in this regard, will be soon issued separately,” he added. The panel headed by Khan has suggested allowing NRIs, OCIs (Overseas Citizens of India) and RIs (Resident Indians) to be allowed to hold non-controlling stake in FPIs and no restriction should be imposed on them to manage non-investing FPIs or Sebi-registered offshore funds, as also in case of registered investment managers.
According to the recommendation, if single and aggregate NRI/OCI/RI holding is below 25 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively, of the assets under management in the FPI, then such persons may be allowed to be constituents of the FPI. The panel has also suggested that erstwhile PIOs (Persons of Indian Origin) should not be subjected to any restrictions, while it has recommended allowing clubbing of investment limits for well-regulated and publicly held FPIs (foreign portfolio investors) having common control.
Changes have also been suggested regarding identification of senior managing official of FPIs and for beneficial owners of listed entities, as also regarding disclosure of personal information. Besides, the panel has suggested giving six months to FPIs for compliance to new rules, after they are finalised, while the non-compliant investors can be given further 180 days to wind down their existing positions.
Sebi had issued a circular in April, proposing the new norms on KYC and beneficial owner identification, the deadline for which was extended later by two months till December. The proposed move was aimed at checking any possible re-routing of funds of Indians and NRIs through overseas locations such as Mauritius, Singapore and Dubai.
However, several FPIs had expressed concerns over the proposed changes in rules and a lobby group named AMRI (Asset Management Roundtable of India) recently said the immediate impact of the new norms, if not amended, would be that USD 75-billion investment managed by OCIs, PIOs and NRIs will be disqualified from investing into India, and the funds will have to be withdrawn and liquidated within a short time-frame.
Sebi, however, had said it is “preposterous and highly irresponsible” to claim that USD 75 billion will move out of India because of the move. With regard to regulatory framework for permitting foreign entities, having actual exposure to Indian commodity markets, to participate in the domestic commodity derivatives markets, Sebi said that such entities would be classified as “Eligible Foreign Entities” (EFEs).
According to Sebi, such EFE should be “Person resident outside India” and minimum networth requirement for such EFE should be USD 500,000. The EFEs desirous of taking hedge positions in Indian commodity derivatives market will have to approach authorised stock brokers, from amongst the brokers which are registered with Sebi, having minimum net-worth of Rs 25 crores and are authorised by the commodity derivatives exchanges for opening of such accounts.
“The tenor of the hedge should not be greater than the tenor of underlying exposure. This may be reviewed based on experience of EFE participation,” the regulator said. The direct participation of foreign entities having actual exposure to commodities is expected to make Indian commodity derivatives market more broadbased, vibrant, deep and efficient.
Further, it would add to the depth and liquidity in the far-month contracts. In respect of introducing a common application form for FPIs to enter into the domestic capital market, Sebi said it has finalised a common application in this regard. Currently, FPIs have to file a separate form to register themselves with the markets regulator. Besides, they have to approach bank for opening bank account, income tax department for PAN (Permanent Account Number) and market intermediaries for demat account.
The move is expected to greatly enhance operational flexibility and ease of access to Indian capital markets. The regulator in consultation with Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has finalised a common application form for obtaining FPI Registration with Sebi, PAN, and KYC for opening of bank and demat accounts by FPIs, Tyagi said. “Necessary amendments to Sebi (FPI) Regulations, 2014 will be made,” he added.