India: Dual listing norms to pose challenges for startup IPOs

As a slew of startups including, Delhivery, Zomato, MobiKwik, PolicyBazaar, gear up to go public, the dual listing clause– part of new regulations for overseas listing–may queer the pitch for them.

Over the past week, startups have gone back to the drawing board to understand the clause, which aims to keep Indian entities under the control of the country’s regulator.

Mint had reported on 11 September that the dual listing clause which has been heavily lobbied against, will force India’s firms considering overseas listings to to list their on domestic bourses.

This may lead to liquidity being spread across different countries, and result in higher taxation and compliance costs for startups.

“Dual listing will actually neither help startups nor the regulator. The cost of compliance of going public is significant, and some companies may struggle to meet the needs of one listing. With this dual listing clause the only option which companies have is to either list in India or list a newly created foreign holding company,” said Santosh N., managing partner, D and P Advisory Services LLP.

Delhivery’s chief business officer Sandeep Barasia had earlier said that while the company is looking to go public by 2022, it will have to wait for Sebi’s final guidelines on overseas listings to finally choose the best market for an IPO.

Last week, foodtech unicorn Zomato said it plans to list its shares by mid-2021. For an overseas listing, this would seem comfortable but if they have to list in India, it would be a tight deadline.

While under the Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements (ICDR) Regulations, Sebi does allow loss-making entities to go public, they need to allot 75% of their net public offer to Qualified Institutional Buyers (QIBs) including insurance, mutual fund companies, and alternative investment funds.

This leaves only 25% of the net offer available to investors and high-net worth individuals, leading to less funds being raised by these startups from retail investors.

“The valuations PEs and VCs like Carlyle and Softbank (who have holdings in Indian unicorns) have agreed on for their investments in India is a notional valuation, and no one can actually back it. So definitely they need something like an IPO to vindicate their valuation. The problem is that after the entire WeWork and Uber (IPO) debacle, we don’t know whether whatever valuation that Softbank and its likes have pegged can be justified,” added Aditya Jadhav, a chartered financial analyst and principal (Investments) at SIDBI Venture Capital Ltd.

“Sebi will have to lower their thresholds and be more cognizant from a sector perspective, for listings. Standards can’t be the same for all sectors,” the person said.

With the Reserve Bank of India imposing restrictions on allowing fixed returns to investors, VC and PE firms insist that startups incorporate their holding or parent companies outside India.

For instance, Flipkart incorporated a separate Singapore entity in 2011, with its Indian operations arm being a subsidiary of this foreign entity. As multiple startups follow this structure, they will look to go public through their international entities outside the ambit of the Indian regulator.

This article was first published on livemint.com.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.