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Press Releases


SEBI’s Latest Updates: Improving Index Fund Tracking, Strengthening Market Integrity

 

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) continues to demonstrate its commitment to enhancing the robustness and transparency of the Indian financial markets. In its 205th board meeting on April 30, 2024, SEBI introduced a series of regulatory updates aimed at improving the tracking accuracy of passive funds, bolstering market integrity, and facilitating greater participation in the bond market. These changes are poised to significantly impact mutual fund investment, stock trading, and the dynamics between ETFs and index funds.

Enhancements in Passive Fund Regulations

A cornerstone of SEBI's recent updates is the modification of regulations governing index funds and ETFs. Traditionally, these funds were restricted to investing no more than 25 percent of their assets in shares of group companies of their sponsors. This limitation was intended to prevent conflicts of interest and ensure a diversified investment approach. However, it also posed challenges for passive funds that aim to closely mirror the composition of their benchmark indices.

Recognizing this, SEBI has now lifted the cap to 35 percent, aligning the investment capabilities of these funds with the reality of the market indices they track. This change is crucial because some thematic benchmark indices include group companies with weightings as high as 35 percent.

By allowing passive funds to invest up to this threshold, SEBI ensures that index funds and ETFs can more accurately replicate their respective indices, thereby improving their tracking precision. This move is particularly significant for investors comparing ETFs vs index funds, as it enhances the fidelity of both types of funds to their benchmarks.

Institutional Mechanisms Against Market Misconduct

In a bid to uphold market integrity, SEBI has mandated that mutual fund houses establish robust institutional mechanisms to detect and prevent market-abusing practices such as front-running and fraudulent transactions. These mechanisms will include enhanced surveillance systems, stringent internal control procedures, and well-defined escalation processes.

Front-running, where individuals trade on advance information of pending orders, undermines market fairness and investor trust. By requiring mutual fund houses to implement these preventive measures, SEBI aims to curb such misconduct. Additionally, the regulator has emphasized the need for a strong whistle-blower policy, ensuring that those who report market manipulation are protected from retaliation. This initiative is a significant step towards fostering a more transparent and ethical trading environment.

Boosting Non-Institutional Investor Participation in the Bond Market

SEBI's updates also include measures to enhance the participation of non-institutional investors in the bond market. Issuers are now permitted to issue Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) and Non-Convertible Redeemable Preference Shares (NCRPS) through private placements at a reduced face value of Rs. 10,000. This reduction in face value lowers the entry barrier for individual investors, making bond investments more accessible and attractive.

Simplified Financial Disclosures for Listed Entities

In a move to streamline financial disclosures, SEBI has decided to allow listed entities with only non-convertible securities to issue a simplified intimation of their financial results. Instead of publishing full financial results in newspapers, these entities can now provide a window advertisement with a QR code and a link to the detailed results on their websites and stock exchanges. This approach leverages technology to make financial information more readily accessible while reducing publication costs.

Conclusion

SEBI's latest regulatory updates reflect a balanced approach to market regulation, enhancing both the precision of passive fund tracking and the integrity of market practices. By allowing greater flexibility in index fund investments, establishing stringent measures against market misconduct, and facilitating broader participation in the bond market, SEBI continues to build a more inclusive financial ecosystem. For investors involved in mutual fund investment and stock trading, these changes promise a more transparent and equitable market environment, while the improved alignment of ETFs vs index funds with their benchmarks enhances investment reliability and performance.

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