The second half of 2018 was characterised by a sharp decrease in the number of equity and debt initial public offerings in Israel and a significant rise in bond yields. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) and the Israeli Securities Authority continue to promote various initiatives to encourage non-Israeli issuers to list on the TASE, including the publication of a bulletin clarifying the rules that apply to the public offering of securities, listing and delisting and ongoing disclosures by dual-listed companies.
The Corporate Finance Department at the Israel Securities Authority recently issued its Staff Legal Bulletin on dual-listed companies. The bulletin is a summary of the most up-to-date information on the issuance, reporting, listing and delisting of dual-listed companies and is intended to clarify and reflect these processes for dual-listed companies and companies considering dual listing.
An inter-ministerial committee was recently set up to promote the establishment of publicly traded funds for investment in infrastructure. The committee was formed to examine and recommend measures and actions that would encourage the establishment of traded infrastructure funds in order to increase the availability of financing sources for infrastructure projects, reduce the financial costs of these projects and enable small investors to directly participate and own these projects.
The Supreme Court recently confirmed that the liability for breaches of reporting obligations in the secondary market by dual-listed companies is governed by the securities laws of the foreign trading jurisdiction. The governing law with respect to the liability of a dual-listed company's external auditors is also the law of the foreign jurisdiction in which the company's shares are traded.
The Israeli Securities Law was recently amended with the goal of making the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) more competitive, efficient and profitable, by changing its ownership structure. This change of ownership structure will allow private investors, in addition to institutional investors, to acquire means of control over TASE. This can be viewed as a privatisation of sorts, as TASE is Israel's only stock exchange and is widely viewed as a national asset.
The Bank of Italy recently opened a public consultation on certain regulatory provisions to be enacted in order to bring forward the implementation of the EU Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and the EU Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation. The proposed provisions aim to supplement the Italian legal framework regarding the organisational duties of regulated intermediaries that provide investment services and activities, including banks.
Interest rates applicable to loans made in Japan are subject to the Interest Rate Restriction Act, which is Japan's usury law. For decades, legal experts and others questioned whether this regulation also applied to corporate bonds, thereby affording bond issuers the same protections against high interest rates as those enjoyed by borrowers. This longstanding question appears to have been resolved by a recent Tokyo District Court judgment.
To address the risk that the London Interbank Offered Rate may be discontinued, the Cross-Industry Committee on Japanese Yen Interest Rate Benchmarks was established to recommend the appropriate choice and use of Japanese yen interest rate benchmarks depending on the type of financial transaction involved and develop transition plans for a new framework enabling the use of Japanese yen interest rate benchmarks. The committee recently published a consultation paper in this regard.
Cabinet recently submitted a bill to the 198th session of the Diet to amend, among other acts, the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act and the Payment Services Act. Among other things, the amendments introduce new regulations for security-type digital tokens (ie, initial coin offerings and security token offerings) and clarify that digital tokens issued in consideration for crypto assets will be regarded as deemed securities.
If a securities registration statement contains a material misstatement, investors that acquire securities through the relevant offering can hold the issuing company liable for related damages. However, it is unclear what level of damages is recoverable if the issuing company successfully proves that the loss incurred by the investor is at least partly attributable to an unrelated factor or circumstance. A recent Supreme Court judgment has provided some clarity in this regard.
The Kyoto District Court recently ruled in favour of a shareholder's petition that a listed issuer cease an offering of its new shares by third-party allotment on the grounds that the offering had been conducted through an 'extremely unfair method', despite having been approved by a resolution at the issuer's shareholders' meeting. The court adopted the main purpose rule in accordance with prior court rulings and concluded that the share offering's main purpose had been to reduce the petitioning shareholder's shareholding.
The new Markets in Financial Instruments (MiFID) Act, which transposes the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and implements the EU Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation, was recently voted into law. Most issues relating to markets in financial instruments are covered by the first part of the act, while the provision of investment services will continue to be governed by the Financial Sector Act, as amended by the second part of the MiFID Act.
Following the adoption of Bill of Law 7022, the new Act on Market Abuse recently entered into force. The act significantly increases the administrative and criminal penalties for infringements of market abuse provisions and designates the Luxembourg financial sector regulator as the competent authority for the purposes of the EU Market Abuse Regulation. It also extends the definition of 'regulated information' provided for in the Act on Transparency Requirements for Issuers.
The Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LuxSE) recently introduced a new specific platform for green financial instruments: the Luxembourg Green Exchange (LGX). Although joining the LGX is optional and green securities can be listed on the LuxSE and recognised as green regardless of whether the issuer chooses to join the LGX, having securities admitted to the LGX will increase investor confidence as to their green nature.
The EU Market Abuse Regulation recently came into force in Luxembourg and a new market abuse regime affecting listed companies has been implemented. In addition, a wider set of rules covering the disclosure of inside information, insider list manager transactions and modifications relating to multilateral trading facility (MTF) platforms – including the Luxembourg Euro MTF market – have been introduced.
Updated Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LuxSE) rules and regulations came into force in January 2016 and the LuxSE recently published frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the Euro MTF Market rules. The FAQs include information on approvals and the requirements for the different types of security generally issued. They also provide support to practitioners in regards to prospectus approvals and the Euro MTF market listing process.
The stock market's flexibility is its greatest selling point for publicly traded companies, as it allows a fast flow of capital while still enabling majority shareholders to implement fundamental corporate changes should they wish to exit the market. However, even with all of this flexibility, shares may not always be free of other encumbrances, and the sale of such shares may be opposed by interested parties or even refused to be recognised as a genuine sale by the Trade Registry.