Introduction to Merchant Bankers
After 1990, the new economic policy adopted by the government has resulted in the promotion of a number of new companies. This has resulted in the enlargement of capital market. The Government abolished the Office of Controller of Capital Issue and the regulation of stock market was taken over by SEBI. In such a situation, to link the investors on the one side and cater to the needs of the entrepreneurs on the other, a new organization came into existence called merchant banker. A merchant banker is able to raise capital from the investing public and provide the same to the companies which are in need of them. Thus, a merchant banker is a critical link between a company raising funds and the investors. There are nearly 600 merchant bankers in India. A list of registered merchant bankers can be found at http://www.takeovercode.com/merchant_bankers.php
Meaning of Merchant Banking
A merchant banker underwrites corporate securities and provides guidelines to clients on issues like corporate mergers. The merchant banker may be in the form of a bank, a firm, company or even a proprietary concern. It is basically service banking which provides non-financial services such as arranging for funds rather than providing them. The merchant banker understands the requirements of the business concerns and arranges finance with the help of financial institutions, banks, stock exchanges, and money market.
Regulations by SEBI on Merchant Banking
Reforms for the merchant bankers
SEBI has made the following reforms for the merchant banker
1. Multiple categories of merchant banker will be abolished and there will be only one equity merchant banker.
2. The merchant banker is allowed to perform underwriting activity. For performing portfolio manager, the merchant banker has to seek separate registration from SEBI.
3. A merchant banker cannot undertake the function of a non banking financial company, such as accepting deposits, financing others’ business, etc.
4. A merchant banker has to confine himself only to capital market activities.
Recognition by SEBI on merchant bankers
SEBI will grant recognition a merchant banker after taking into account the following aspects
1. Considering how much the merchant are professionally competent.
2. Whether they have adequate capital
3. Track record, experience and general reputation of merchant bankers.
4. Quality of staff employed by merchant bankers, their adequacy and available infrastructure are taken into account. After considering the above aspects, SEBI will grant permission for the merchant banker to start functioning.
Conditions by SEBI for merchant bankers
SEBI has laid the following conditions on the merchant bankers, for conducting their operations. They are
1. SEBI will give authorization for a merchant banker to operate for 3 years only. Without SEBI’s authorization, merchant bankers cannot operate.
2. The minimum net worth of merchant banker should be Rs. 1 crore.
3. Merchant banker has to pay authorization fee, annual fee and renewal fee.
4. All issue of shares must be managed by one authorized merchant banker. It should be the lead manager.
5. The responsibility of the lead manager will be clearly indicated by SEBI.
6. Lead managers are responsible for allotment of securities, refunds, etc.
7. Merchant banker will submit to SEBI all returns and send reports regarding the issue of shares.
8. A code of conduct for merchant bankers will be given by SEBI, which has to be followed by them.
9. Any violation by the merchant banker will lead to the revocation of authorization by SEBI.