Financial investors in India are scared of regulatory uncertainties. Not that uncertainties are exclusive to our country but it’s a critical risk factor that is assessed by those making substantial investments. Historically, one of the most important regulatory concerns for such investors is related to being categorised as ‘promoter’ of a listed company, both when the company is going public and also in cases where a private equity (PE) player intends to take a control position in an already listed company, by replacing its present promoters or by becoming co-promoters. Promoter liability theories have kept such investors away from taking control positions in listed companies. On the contrary, in the unlisted space where the promoter position is perceived differently, control deals are a way of life for certain PE funds in India.

Continue Reading New Promoters on the Block: The Financial Investors

India has long recognised the right of foreign creditors to participate in the winding up of Indian companies. As early as 1961, the Supreme Court of India, in Rajah of Vizianagaram (AIR 1962 SC 500), clarified that foreign creditors have the same right as Indian creditors in winding up proceedings under Indian law. Given the backlog of cases and resultant timelines for resolving disputes in the Indian judicial system, winding up has been the remedy of choice, albeit mostly as a pressure point, for unsecured creditors including foreign unsecured creditors of Indian companies. Such creditors have taken winding up actions despite the low return (an abysmal 28% as per one source) and pace of insolvency (almost 4.5 years) in the Indian market. At the same time, there have been instances where consensual restructuring of stressed Indian companies has been halted by such actions of unsecured creditors.

The Indian government from time to time provided a specific legal regime for Indian financial creditors to recover their money – for example, debt recovery tribunals (DRT) and the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI). But no additional measures were suggested for non-financial creditors.

Continue Reading IBC- Making “Doing Business in India” Easy for Foreign Trade Creditors?

Photo credit: Indian Express, August 23, 2017

Through its historic ruling delivered by a five-judge bench in the case of Shayara Bano and Ors v. Union of India on August 22nd 2017, the Supreme Court of India (SC) liberated Muslim women from the perpetual fear of arbitrary and whimsical divorce. The SC banned the regressive practice of instant ‘triple talaq’, which allowed Muslim men to unilaterally end their marriages simply by uttering the word “talaq” thrice without making any provision for maintenance or alimony. These often happened on the flimsiest of grounds, if any, which left the women at a serious and grave disadvantage.

The long-standing battle to get triple talaq abolished gained renewed momentum in October 2015, when the SC decided to look into the matter of Muslim women facing gender-based discrimination within the community. A Constitutional Bench of the SC was set up to examine if Muslim women face gender discrimination in divorce cases.

Continue Reading Sin! Sin! Sin! : Supreme Court Declares Triple Talaq Unconstitutional!

The ability to attract large scale Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India has been a key driver for policy making by the Government. Prime Minister Modi seems to be going along the right track, with India receiving FDI inflows worth USD 60.1 billion in 2016-17, which was an all-time high. Hence, the FDI policy of India has always been closely watched and carefully amended over the years.

On August 28th, 2017, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) had issued the updated and revised Foreign Direct Investment Policy, 2017 – 2018 (FDI Policy 2017). The FDI Policy 2017 incorporated various notifications issued by the Government of India over the past year.

Please find below a brief analysis of the key amendments brought by the FDI Policy 2017 to the erstwhile FDI Policy of 2016 and their potential impact on FDI in India:

Continue Reading India announces new Foreign Direct Investment Policy, 2017 – 2018

On August 31st 2017, the Supreme Court of India in the case of Innoventive Industries Limited v. ICICI Bank Limited* delivered its first extensive ruling on the operation and functioning of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Insolvency Code). The Court said that it is pronouncing its detailed judgment in the very first application under the Insolvency Code, so that all Courts and Tribunals may take notice of a paradigm shift in the law.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed on behalf of Innoventive Industries Limited and confirmed the decision of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), which in turn had affirmed the order passed by the National Company Law Tribunal Mumbai (NCLT) admitting the insolvency petition filed by ICICI Bank Limited against Innoventive Industries Limited. Continue Reading Innoventive Industries Limited v. ICICI Bank Limited: Paradigm Shift in Insolvency Law in India

Mergers are compared to marriages. As a union of companies, they require patience and understanding, but they also involve a large amount of paperwork. Mergers, like marriages, can flourish with the right synergies, but if there are differences between the entities, the arrangement can often collapse. The recent breakdown of the Snapdeal – Flipkart transaction, can provide a useful context to understand the reasons for the success/failure of M&A transactions.

The success of a deal depends on the companies, the individuals, the business climate, as well as the different regulators involved in the transaction. A few common reasons for deals breaking down are – valuation differences, different expectations between the parties involved, regulatory roadblocks or a lack of consensus regarding the exit horizons.

While these are reasons general to any corporate transaction, there are some requirements specific to M&A deals that must be met in order for the deal to survive.

Continue Reading When the Engagement Ring Doesn’t Fit – Why M&A Deals Fall Apart

Second in our series of Employment Law blogs on the Maternity Benefit Act. The earlier piece was published here.

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (MB Act) was amended by the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2016 (MB Amendment Act) which became effective on April 1st, 2017 (except for the provision that required a crèche facility to be provided by the employer, which came into effect on July 1st, 2017). Questions have now been raised about whether the provisions of the MB Amendment Act apply to employees covered under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 (ESI Act).

The purpose of this note is to provide an insight into the applicability of the MB Act and the ESI Act and benefits available therein, especially provided under the MB Amendment Act, to a woman employee, etc.

Continue Reading What is Relevant to Know about the Maternity Benefits Act and the Employees’ State Insurance Act

Offshore Derivative Instruments (ODI) have been a focal point for the Government in India and over the years, the regulatory boundaries of doing business in this space have been re-aligned by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), quite frequently.

As a part of SEBI’s efforts towards increasing transparency and accountability in the ODI space as well as encouraging direct investments through the foreign portfolio investment (FPI) route, the SEBI Consultation Paper of May 29, 2017, titled ‘On streamlining the process of monitoring of Offshore Derivative Instruments (ODIs)/ Participatory Notes (PNs)’, proposed prohibiting the issuance of ODIs against derivatives, except for those used for hedging. SEBI had invited public comments on the matter until June 12, 2017. Thereafter, at a board meeting on June 21, 2017, the SEBI board approved this proposal, with the minutes specifically stating that “The Board has decided to prohibit ODIs from being issued against derivatives, except those which are used for hedging purposes. SEBI will issue a circular in this regard.

The question now is whether this is the right approach to bringing down volumes in speculative trades being undertaken in the derivatives market.

Continue Reading SEBI Circular on ODIs: Step too Far or the Right Balance?

The foundation of every state is the education of its youth,” said Diogenes, the ancient Greek philosopher.

Herein lies the crux of why education remains vital for any government across the world, often as a charitable and social responsibility.

This piece intends to provide an overview of the education sector in India; to highlight some of the key legislations and regulatory regimes that govern education in the country; shed light on some of the recent government initiatives in the sector; and, in conclusion, make a case for increased private participation in Indian education.

Continue Reading Regulatory Hot Broth: Why Private Participation Would Add to the Flavour of the Indian Education Sector

First in our series of Employment Law blogs on the Maternity Benefit Act.

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2016 (“Amendment Act”), which was passed by Parliament on March 9th, 2017, introduced certain significant changes to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (“MB Act”). The Amendment Act received Presidential assent on March 27th, 2017 and came into effect from April 1st, 2017 except for the provisions, that require an employer to provide a creche facility. These are scheduled to become effective from July 1st, 2017.

Subsequent to the introduction of the Amendment Act and clarifications issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment on April 12th, 2017 (“Clarification”), several questions have been raised by companies with respect to their obligations as employers under certain aspects of the Amendment Act.

Continue Reading Analysis of Certain Aspects of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2016