Sebi clears REIT, InvIT norms to tap Rs 1-trillion investments

RSTV Bureau

Paving the way for Rs 1 lakh crore fund inflows from foreign and domestic investors, Sebi cleared new norms for setting up and listing of Real Estate and Infrastructure Investment Trusts on Sunday.

The new guidelines, which herald a new investment avenue in India on the lines of one in developed markets like the US, UK, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, would allow trading in units of REITs and InvITs like any other security on stock exchanges.

The norms were cleared by Sebi’s board at a meeting, which was also addressed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and takes forward the government’s proposals in this regard as outlined in the Union Budget presented last month.

In his budget speech, Jaitley had announced significant tax incentives for these products and the same have been incorporated in the new norms, which are expected to come into force in a month or two after necessary notifications.

However, small investors would have to wait for some time before they are allowed to invest in these new products, as minimum investment amount for REITs has been fixed at Rs 2 lakh and at Rs 10 lakh for InvITs for now, given the complex nature and potential risks associated with them.

The REITs alone can attract USD 8-10 billion worth funds.

Talking to reporters after the board meeting, Sebi Chairman U K Sinha said that these trusts would help in the progress of the real estate and infrastructure sectors.

The government feels that these new investment avenues would reduce the pressure on the banking system while also making available fresh equity in form of long-term finance from foreign and domestic sources including the NRIs.

The Sebi board also cleared a proposal for putting in place a simplified procedure for a one-time registration of brokers to help them trade on different bourses with one single approval from the regulator.

In his first interaction with Sebi’s board after assuming charge as Finance Minister in May, Jaitley also asked the regulator to be vigilant about possible violations in the marketplace and suggested more measures to attract retail investors and address their grievances.

The new norms would enable listing and trading of REITs and InvITs as any other security on the stock exchange platforms and also help create new platforms for rising of funds by real estate and infrastructure companies, respectively.

Certain changes or amendments and additional guidelines would be required by the government and other regulators for development of REITs and InvITs in India.

These include allowing foreign investment into the units of REITs and InvITs at the time of IPO and for acquisition from secondary markets, and for allowing insurance companies, pension funds and provident funds to invest.