India fines 530 firms for delay in appointing women directors

Updated 14 July 2015
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India fines 530 firms for delay in appointing women directors

NEW DELHI: The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has slapped fines on 530 listed companies for failing to meet a deadline to appoint a women director and boost gender diversity in their boardrooms, a BSE official said on Tuesday.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) last year imposed a quota of at least one female director on the board of every listed firm, and warned of “very serious” consequences if the thousands of companies did not comply by an April 1 deadline.
The BSE said in a statement that SEBI rules meant companies who failed to comply would face a scheduled fine. This ranging from 50,000 rupees ($790) to 142,000 rupees ($2,240) to Oct. 1, 2015. After this, they would pay an additional 5,000 rupees ($78) per day until they complied.
“As per the provisions of the SEBI circular, BSE has till date (July 13) issued advisory letters to 530 companies regarding levy of fines for non-compliance with the said provision within the prescribed timelines,” said a statement.
A BSE spokesman said he could not disclose the names of the 530 firms from the 5,711 companies listed on the exchange that were being penalized.
The National Stock Exchange (NSE) said it had also sent out letters informing 260 listed firms, many of which are also listed on the BSE, of its intention to levy fines.
An NSE spokesman said SEBI could take further action against companies which had not paid up fines and appointed a woman director by Sept 30, 2015.
“SEBI may take any other action, against the non-compliant entities, their promoters and/or directors or issue such directions in accordance with law, as considered appropriate,” he said quoting the SEBI directive.

Not enough
According to PRIME Database, a market research group, which monitors the NSE, 105 companies out of 1,733 still had vacancies for women directors on their boards as of Tuesday.
These include private firms such as Aditya Birla Chemicals, Nissan Copper Ltd. and Infotech Ltd. as well as state-run companies such as the Bank of India, the State Trading Corporation of India and the Bank of Maharashtra.
Analysts welcomed the move, but said it was insufficient to force companies give women seats at the tables.
“The fines really are not enough. If you look at it, a company would be paying only around 63,000 rupees or $1,000 — for non-compliance if they paid today,” said Pranav Haldea, PRIME Database’s Managing Director.
“Asking a company to pay that amount will not exactly burn a hole in their pockets.”
SEBI could take stronger action such as suspension from trading or freezing promoters’ share holdings, Haldea said.
The companies have argued there are too few professionally qualified women to fill boardroom positions. But others say there are many women who can do the job but need support in terms of visibility and networking.
“While SEBI is right to have fined companies for non-compliance to appoint women on boards, is the government doing enough to ensure that women are appointed on boards of companies?” said Sarika Bhattacharyya, co-founder and director of Biz Divas, a non-profit promoting women leadership.
“India is still in the nascent stage of appointing women on boards and if necessary steps are taken by the government, we should be able to see better traction.”
Ahead of SEBI’s April 1 deadline, thousands of companies rushed to recruit women directors, with many installing the wives and mother-in-laws of their top executives.
But the scarcity of women in the boardroom is not unique to India. Nearly one-fifth of the world’s 200 largest companies have no women directors, according to an August 2014 report by Biz Divas.


Oil prices edge up as OPEC says its crude output fell sharply in December

Updated 18 January 2019
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Oil prices edge up as OPEC says its crude output fell sharply in December

  • OPEC cut oil output sharply in December before a new accord to limit supply took effect on Jan. 1

SYDNEY, Australia: US oil prices inched higher on Friday after a report from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries showed its production fell sharply last month, easing fears about prolonged oversupply.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.40 per barrel at 0026 GMT, up 32 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last settlement. WTI futures closed down 0.4 percent on Thursday.
International Brent crude oil futures had yet to trade, after closing up 1.1 percent in the previous session.
OPEC cut oil output sharply in December before a new accord to limit supply took effect on Jan. 1, it said on Thursday, suggesting that producers have made a strong start to averting a glut in 2019 as a slowing economy curbs demand.
“The OPEC+ production cuts (that stared this month) will be paramount to keeping the market tight and supporting prices,” ANZ said in a research note. The body is making cuts along with other major producers such as Russia.
OPEC said in its monthly report that its oil output fell by 751,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December to 31.58 million bpd, the biggest month-on-month drop in almost two years.
But tempering that support for prices, OPEC also cut its forecast for average daily demand for its crude in 2019 to 30.83 million barrels, down 910,000 bpd from the 2018 average.