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Anti-trust checks for IPOs?

Mahua Venkatesh

New Delhi, Jan. 28 -- If all goes according to plan, companies that plan to raise money from stock exchanges may have to compulsorily disclose market share and related details as the Competition Commission of India (CCI), India's nascent but increasingly assertive anti-trust watchdog, fortify rules to clamp down on anti-competitive behaviour, cartels and monopolistic practices.

CCI chairman Ashok Chawla, who recently met top CEOs to discuss competition and compliance issues; will soon meet Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chairman UK Sinha to trash out the contours and add anti-trust disclosures in the set of listing requirements before a company floats a public offer in stock markets.

The move is part of the CCI efforts to deal with complex deals created in a manner to help reap extra-normal profits through monopoly-like market structures.

"We would take up the issue of competition guidelines and compliance with SEBI to see whether these could be made part of the listing agreement," Chawla told HT.

The CCI, which enjoys powers under a law enacted in 2009 to clamp down on companies for anti-competitive behaviour and abuse of market dominances by forming price cartels, has also held discussions with trade associations. "Competition rules are important for the development of the overall economy and consumers in general," said Chawla.

In 2005, Clause 49 was brought into the fold of the listing agreement, under which at least 50% of the board of a company, which has an executive chairman, need to comprise of independent directors while in the case of a company with a non-executive chairman, at least one-third of the board should be independent directors. The move was implemented to ensure firms adhered to higher level of corporate governance norms.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.