SAT stays SEBI order accusing Future promoters of insider trading

The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has stayed the effect and operation of SEBIs order accusing the promoters of Future Group of insider trading in the context of purchases of Future Retail shares made in March 2017.

According to a statement by Future Corporate Resources Limited, the restructuring of the home furnishing businesses in the Future Group (with the physical store format of Future Retail and online store format of Future Enterprises being demerger into a new company) had been well known in the public since 2016.

Future Group counsel Somasekhar Sundaresan argued that the actual terms of the restructuring were initiated only in April 2017 while the purchases were made in March to avail of the creeping acquisition limits under the takeover regulations.

It was pointed out by the counsel that on the very day SEBI held a personal hearing in this case, another official of SEBI had exonerated the Bharti Airtel Group on the premise that information published in newspapers would be considered generally available information. Besides, the home furnishing business of Future Retail was a minuscule component of Future Retail’s business and was hardly material for price discovery for shares of Future Retail, he argued.

SEBI counsel Ravi Kadam argued that the proximity of the purchases would point to seeking benefit from information about the restructuring and that Future Group had told the stock exchanges in February 2017 that actual terms of the transaction had not been finalised.

Future Group counsel countered by arguing that the generic reference to the term “information” is vague since information about the transaction being in the offing was in the public domain and indeed the actual terms of the transaction were discussed and initiated only in April 2017 while the purchases had been made in March 2017.

Future Group promoters have been asked to deposit a sum of Rs 11 crore as an interim measure, against which the effect and operation of the SEBI order has been stayed. The case will now come up for hearing on April 12.