Section 2(69) of the Companies Act, 2013 defines the term ‘promoter’ as under:-
“Promoter” means a person—
(a) who has been named as such in a prospectus or is identified by the company in the annual return referred to in section 92; or

(b) who has control over the affairs of the company, directly or indirectly whether as a shareholder, director or otherwise; or

(c) in accordance with whose advice, directions or instructions the Board of Directors of the company is accustomed to act.

Provided that sub-clause (c) shall not apply to a person who is acting merely in a professional capacity.

By virtue of above definition, persons in accordance with whose advice, directions or instructions the Board of Directors of the company is accustomed to act are also treated as promoters. However, if a person is merely acting in a professional capacity i.e. giving only professional advice to the Board of directors, he shall not be treated as a promoter.

Further, according to SEBI (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2009, “promoter” includes:

(i) the person or persons who are in control of the issuer;

(ii) the person or persons who are instrumental in the formulation of a plan or programme pursuant to which specified securities are offered to public;

(iii) the person or persons named in the offer document as promoters.


It was held in Twycross v. Grant, (1877) 2. C.P.D. 469 that promoter is “one who undertakes to form a company with reference to a given project and to set it going, and who takes the necessary steps to accomplish that purpose”.

In Whaley Bridge Calico Printing Co. v. Green (1880) 5 Q.B.D. 109, Bowen, L.J. held that the term “promoter” is a term not of law but of business usually summing up in a single word a number of business operations familiar to the commercial world by which a company is generally brought into existence”.

In Phosphate Sewage Co. v. Hartmount (1876) 5 Ch.D 394/ Official Receiver and Liquidator of Jubilee Cotton Mills Ltd. v. Lewis(1924) AC 958 (HL), Promoter is a person who as principle procures or aids in procuring the incorporation of a company.

But a person may be a promoter even if he has undertaken a lesser active role in the formation of a company.

Any person who becomes a director, places shares or negotiates preliminary agreements, may be covered by this term. Who constitutes a promoter in a particular case , has to be seen in the light of a clear legislative definition provided under section 2(69) the Companies Act, 2013.

A company may have several promoters. A promoter may be a natural person or a company.

It is clear from the foregoing that the word “promoter” is used in common parlance to denote any individual, corporate, syndicate, association or partnership which has taken all the necessary steps to create and mould a company and set it going.

The promoter originates the scheme for the formation of a company; gets together the subscribers to the memorandum, gets the Memorandum and Articles prepared, executed and registered, finds the bankers, brokers and legal advisers, finds the first directors, settles the terms of preliminary contracts with vendors and agreement with underwriters, and makes arrangement for preparation, advertisement and circulation of the prospectus and placement of the capital.

But a person who merely acts in a professional capacity on behalf of the promoter, such as a solicitor who draws up an agreement or articles, an accountant or valuer who prepares figures or valuation on behalf of a promoter, and who is paid for the same, is not a promoter.


The Companies Act 2013, contains some provisions regarding the duties of promoters. The fiduciary duties of a promoter includes:

(a) As per section 102(4), where as a result of the non-disclosure or insufficient disclosure in any explanatory statement annexed to the notice of a general meeting , by a promoter, director, manager, if any, or other key managerial personnel,

any benefit accrues to such promoter, director, manager or other key managerial personnel or their relatives, either directly or indirectly, the promoter, director, manager or other key managerial personnel,

as the case may be, shall hold such benefit in trust for the company, and shall, without prejudice to any other action being taken against him under this Act or under any other law for the time being in force, be liable to compensate the company to the extent of the benefit received by him.

In the case of default in complying with above provisions, every promoter, director, manager or other key managerial personnel who is in default shall be punishable with fine which may extend to 50,000 rupees or five times the amount of benefit accruing to the promoter, director, manager or other key managerial personnel or any of his relatives, whichever is more. [Sub-section (5) of Section 102]

The above provision is based on the principle that a promoter cannot make either directly or indirectly, any profit at the expense of the company he promotes, without the knowledge and consent of the company and that if he does so, in disregard of this rule, the company can compel him to account for it.

In relation to disclosure it may be noted that part disclosure will also attract the same consequences. A promoter is not forbidden to make profit but he is barred from making any secret profit. He may make a profit out of promotion with the consent of the company in the same way as an agent may retain a profit obtained through his agency with his principal’s consent.


In Gluckstein v. Barnes, (1900) A.C. 240 it was held that where a promoter makes some profits in connection with a transaction to which company is a party and does not make full disclosure of his profits; the company has the right to affirm the contracts and promoter should handover his profits to the company.

(b) A promoter is not allowed to derive a profit from the sale of his own property to the company unless all material facts are disclosed. If a promoter contracts to sell his own property to the company without making a full disclosure, the company may either repudiate the sale or affirm the contract and recover the profit made out of it by the promoter. Either way the dishonest promoter is deprived of his advantage.


In Erlanger v. New Sombrero Phosphate Co., (1878) 3 A.C. 1218, a syndicate of which E was the head purchased an island containing mines of phosphate for £ 5,000. E then formed a company to buy this island.

A contract was made between X a nominee of the syndicate and the company for its purchase at £ 1,10,000. The details of the sale were not disclosed to the shareholders or to the independent Board of directors. The company now sought to rescind the contract of sale.

It was held that as there had been no disclosure by the promoters of the profit they were making, the company was entitled to rescind the contract.
In case, therefore, the promoter wishes to sell his own property to the company, he should either disclose the fact:

(a) to an independent Board of directors; or

(b) in the articles of association of the company; or

(c) in the prospectus; or

(d) to the existing and intended shareholders directly.

In addition to disclosing secret profits, a promoter has the duty to disclose to the company any interest he has in a transaction entered into by him.

(c) As per section 13(8), a company, which has raised money from public through prospectus and still has any unutilised amount out of the money so raised, shall not change its objects for which it raised the money through

prospectus unless a special resolution is passed by the company and the dissenting shareholders shall be given an opportunity to exit by the promoters and shareholders having control in accordance with regulations to be specified by the Securities and Exchange Board.

(d) As per section 27(2), the dissenting shareholders being those shareholders who have not agreed to the proposal to vary the terms of contracts or objects referred to in the prospectus, shall be given an exit offer

by promoters or controlling shareholders at such exit price, and in such manner and conditions as may be specified by the Securities and Exchange Board by making regulations in this behalf.

(e) As per section 167(3), where all the directors of a company vacate their offices under any of the disqualifications specified in sub-section (1), the promoter or, in his absence, the Central Government shall appoint the

required number of directors who shall hold office till the directors are appointed by the company in the general meeting.

(f) As per section 168(3), where all the directors of a company resign from their offices, or vacate their offices under section 167, the promoter or, in his

absence, the Central Government shall appoint the required number of directors who shall hold office till the directors are appointed by the company in general meeting.

(g) As per section 284(1)*, the promoters, directors, officers and employees, who are or have been in employment of the company or acting or associated with the company shall extend full cooperation to the Company Liquidator in discharge of his functions and duties during winding up by the Tribunal.

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