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Foreign cos may get to offer Esops to desi staff
September, 18th 2006
Theres a windfall in store for employees of foreign companies subsidiaries who are working in India. The government is likely to allow foreign companies to give employee stock options (Esops) to employees of their Indian subsidiaries, through the India Depository Receipts (IDR) route. For example, Microsoft USA may want to give Esops to employees of Microsoft India, which is not listed here. It can float an IDR and earmark a percentage for these employees. The proposal will benefit the employees of multinationals in a big way. Since subsidiaries are often not listed and cannot give out Esops, employees in India have at times missed out on the growth story abroad, despite contributing to the performance of the parent company in a big way. There are several MNCs operating in India, like GE and Coca Cola, whose subsidiaries are not listed in the Indian stock markets. The move is also expected to increase the attractiveness of these companies in terms of employee compensation. Sebi (Disclosure and Investor Protection) Guidelines, incorporating the IDR provisions, were issued in May this year. The guidelines do not have any specific provision for this purpose. In a bid to bring about clarity on the subject, the government may come out with additions to the guidelines, sources told ET, following representations from industry. R Sridhar, senior manager dealing with capital markets issues in PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the Sebi (DIP) guidelines do not prevent an Esop issue. But he acknowledged that foreign companies may want the regulatory authorities to spell it out precisely, before committing themselves. IDRs are receipts against shares of foreign companies, issued in the Indian equity markets by these companies. They are the reverse of GDR and ADR instruments, that allow Indian companies to raise equity capital from overseas markets. The minimum size of an IDR issue is Rs 50 crore and the minimum subscription size is Rs 2 lakh.
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