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Sebi plans a unified regulatory filing system for all listed companies
November, 18th 2010

The Securities & Exchange Borad of India (Sebi) is putting in place a unified regulatory filing system for all listed companies and market entities in a standardised format to enable dissection of bulky documents for relevant information without any delay.

Besides disseminating the information on real-time basis to investors and others, the XBRL technology-based new system will also help Sebi itself as also other regulatory and investigative agencies in monitoring any irregularities in the affairs of companies and market intermediaries.

Sebi is currently in the process of finalising the technology provider for the system, a senior official said.

"Sebi intends to set up a comprehensive reporting, filing and dissemination system for filing of information reports in XBRL by listed entities, registered intermediaries and other entities," the official said.

In addition to mandatory regulatory filings to be made under listing agreements and other regulations, the entities would have to use the new XBRL-based platform for all their reporting purposes to the regulator, the official added.

XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) technology enables the computers read and divide the information provided in the filings under various heads and thus makes it easy to find any relevant details and to identify any irregularities.

The new system, called SUPER-D (Sebi Unified Platform for Electronic Reporting - Dissemination), is being developed in such a way that it is capable to manage simultaneous filing of 500 documents on normal days and have peak-period capacity to handle 15,000 simultaneous filings.

The system would help in real-time dissemination of relevant information on internet and analyse the data for research and regulatory purposes. It would also provide for automated report generation for regulatory purposes.

Once the system is put in place, all listed companies, as also market entities like foreign and domestic institutions and brokerages would need to make all their regulatory filings, including financial reporting and other disclosures, to the new unified platform in a common standardised format.

Currently, BSE and NSE have a XBRL-based financial reporting platform for listed companies for all their filings and the system helps the investors get real-time access.

The official said that Sebi now wants to bring in a unified platform for all the capital market segments in the interest of investors and for better regulatory oversight.

The move would help minimise the time lag, which at times runs into days, that currently exists for investors and others getting access to the filings made by the market-related entities outside the bourses' platform.

Besides, it would bring in uniformity in the information submitted by various kinds of market entities and make it easier and less time-consuming for dissecting the details.

XBRL is fast emerging as the standard tool for electronic communication of business and financial information in various countries including the US, where market regulator SEC has decided to make such a regulatory filing platform mandatory.

In India also, the government has sought to make XBRL-based financial reporting mandatory for all the companies registered with Registrar of Companies from the next year, while RBI is also putting in place such a system for banks.

XBRL technology itself is said to owe its origin to the need for a new accounting tool in late 90s for better understanding the companies' accounts and identifying any irregularities, in the aftermath of the Enron scam, one of the biggest ever accounting fraud in the world.

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