Sebi proposes confidential ‘pre-filing’ of IPO documents

MUMBAI: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Wednesday proposed allowing companies targeting stock market initial public offerings (IPOs) to submit a confidential “pre-filing” document, in an effort aimed at safeguarding their sensitive business information.

The initial offer document will only need to be filed with Sebi and the stock exchanges, and the company can decide whether to go public or not after the regulator issues its observations, Sebi said in its proposal. Currently in India, companies first file a draft prospectus with SEBI that contains regulatory disclosures, which is also released publicly for comments for at least 21 days.

Later, after incorporating any regulatory and other feedback, a final prospectus is filed for approval again. Sebi said one of the concerns for companies is the disclosure of such sensitive information in their draft offer documents, “which may be beneficial to its competitors, without the certainty that the initial public issuance would be executed.”

Globally, countries including the United States and Canada allow a confidential “pre-filing” with regulators before a company decides to proceed with an IPO, Sebi said. Sebi is seeking comments from the public on its new proposal by June 6. Such proposals are commonly floated by the market regulator, and there is no certainty that it would be enforced as a policy.