SEBI permits Thomas Cook India to withdraw buyback offer

in a rare move, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has allowed Thomas Cook (India) to withdraw share buyback offer worth up to Rs 150 crore in view of the weakened financial condition of the company amid the pandemic.

The SEBI order noted that the proposed buyback will result in an “adverse effect” on the business of the company and in turn, its shareholders.

Once approved, the regulator rarely allows suspension of a share buyback plan given by companies.

“While treating this as a unique case, I am inclined to exercise powers under Regulation 28(i)(b) read with Regulation 28(iv) of the Buy-back Regulations, 2018 and allow the request for withdrawal,” said the order by G. Mahalingam, Whole Time Member of SEBI.

In February 2020, the board of directors of the company had approved the proposal for a buyback of up to over 2.6 crore shares, representing 6.9 per cent of the total paid-up equity share capital as on December 31, 2019, on a proportionate basis through the tender offer process. Subsequently, it also filed a draft letter of offer (DLOF) with the capital market regulator.

However, in September 2020, it filed an application seeking withdrawal of the buyback offer citing the severe impact of the pandemic and the lockdown on its business and the tourism industry as a whole.

While permitting the withdrawal, SEBI treated the matter as a “unique” case.