Unilever Plc — the world’s third largest FMCG company — has been penalised by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) for not making timely disclosures related to its holding in its Indian arm, HUL.
On Friday, Sebi imposed a penalty of Rs 50 lakh on the promoters of HUL, including Unilever Plc, and six other entities. According to Sebi, the promoter entities were required to disclose their holding in HUL within 21 days from the end of each financial year, but the probe revealed that the there was a delay in the range of four to 31 days in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013.
“The disclosures obligations under SAST Regulations are critical and an important component of the legal regime governing substantial acquisition of shares and takeovers. In the absence of these timely disclosures, the investors will be deprived of important information at the relevant point of time. It is also evident that the noticees have committed the defaults on more than one occasion and, as such, the default on the part of the noticees is repetitive in nature,” said the 13-page Sebi order.
The MNC entities, while admitting the delay in making disclosures, have said that the “non-compliance has been inadvertent in nature without any intention to conceal any information or gain any advantage.” Sebi came across the violations while examining the open offer letter by Unilever PLC to acquire 48.7 crore equity shares of HUL representing 22.5% of the equity share capital at a price of Rs 600 per share.