The principle and overriding function of the securities market regulator, The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is to protect the interests of the investors in the securities market. The other functions, viz., orderly development and regulation of securities markets are secondary, in my view. However, there is overwhelming anecdotal evidence to indicate that the regulators have given precedence to market development and regulation over the principle objective of investor protection. There are many instances in past 3-4 years alone to indicate this. In the episodes of IL&FS, Franklin Templeton, Yes Bank, Jet Airways, Karvy etc., the interests of the investors in these entities were compromised. Moreover, little efforts were made to ensure that prospective investors are given full disclosures about the risk and reward of investing in the securities of these entities.
Recently, we have seen a repeat of this tendency. On Monday, the 7th June 2021, evening, DHFL informed stock exchanges about the resolution plan approved by the Mumbai bench of NCLT. It was clear from the resolution plan that in the successful bid of Piramal Group “No value was attributable to the equity shares as per the liquidation value of the Company estimated by registered valuers”. Besides it was also made clear in the communication to the exchanges that equity shares of DHFL shall be delisted upon completion of the resolution.
Clearly, the resolution plan envisaged zero value for the shares of DHFL Limited. Despite this the stock was allowed to be traded on Tuesday, the 8th June 2021. To make the matters worse, it was allowed to rise 10% (the maximum permitted as per the applicable price band). Over 14cr shares were traded on NSE alone and investors took delivery of over 9crore shares valued close to Rs200cr. All this money will be lost. No broker warned the investors on Tuesday. The exchanges did not advise the brokers to caution their clients. SEBI did not ask the exchanges to suspend the trading. To compound the mistake, the stocks continues to be traded on both the exchanges despite the company formally informing the exchanges that the worth of equity shares is Zero. About 5 million shares were traded on Wednesday also. To be fair, many brokers did advise their clients on Wednesday.
Many “knowledgeable” investors in DHFL have been allowed to unfairly transfer their risk to unsuspecting gullible investors in past two days.
In this context it is pertinent to note that the model bye laws prescribed for the exchanges require that—
“The Exchange shall provide adequate and effective surveillance and monitoring mechanism for the purpose of initiating timely and pro-active measures to facilitate checking and detecting suspected or alleged market manipulation, price rigging or insider trading to ensure the market integrity and fairness in trading. For this purpose, the Exchange may, from time to time, apply, adopt, determine and implement various measures, mechanisms and requirements, as may be provided in the relevant Regulations and as may be decided by the Relevant Authority from time to time.”
It is, therefore, also the duty of the exchanges to act proactively to ensure fairness in trading. In this case the exchanges could have easily anticipated that some people have advantage of knowing the details of the resolution plan. An analysis of trading data for Tuesday will clearly show that the trading in DHFL was not fair. Not suspending the trading this stock is even more unfair to “unaware” investors and traders.
The article first appeared on investrekk.com