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The CAM Corporate Team can be reached at cam.mumbai@cyrilshroff.com

Reimagining the Good Times - Start-ups and the Covid-19 Crisis

In recent years, the start-up ecosystem in India has emerged as a reckoning force, largely due to efforts of stakeholders and initiatives implemented by the government to facilitate growth. Investments in start-ups surged from $550 million in 2010 to $14.5 billion in 2019.[1]

The Covid-19 pandemic has now adversely impacted the overall investment climate. While businesses across sectors have felt repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, start-ups have been particularly vulnerable and are facing formidable challenges both from a business and operations perspective. Most start-ups have witnessed a decline in supply/demand, except those engaged in supply/delivery of ‘essential services’ and edu-tech/gaming/streaming services. However, despite this increased demand, glitches in the supply chain network have presented challenges. The start-up ecosystem has been striving to adapt to the present situation by focussing on the need to innovate and diversify.
Continue Reading Reimagining the Good Times: Start-ups and the Covid-19 Crisis

Back to the future - restoring the Mauritius route for FPI investments

Background

On September 23, 2019, the Securities and EXCHANGE Board of India (“SEBI”) notified the SEBI (Foreign Portfolio Investors) Regulations, 2019 (“New FPI Regulations”), overhauling the erstwhile SEBI (Foreign Portfolio Investors) Regulations, 2014 (“Erstwhile FPI Regulations”). Under the New FPI Regulations, SEBI recategorised FPIs in to two categories (as against the three categories under the Erstwhile FPI Regulations), based on their regulatory status and jurisdiction of residence. Under the New FPI Regulations, Category I FPIs include sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, appropriately regulated entities, certain endowments and other entities from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) member countries, which are appropriately regulated funds or unregulated funds whose investment manager is appropriately regulated and registered as Category I FPI or is owned to the extent of at least 75% by certain Category I FPIs. Category II FPIs include entities that do not qualify for Category I status under the New FPI Regulations. Further, on account of the overhauling and recategorisation under the New FPI Regulations, those Category II FPIs under the Erstwhile FPI Regulations, which did not qualify to be recategorised as Category I FPIs under the New FPI Regulations got recategorised as Category II FPIs under the New FPI Regulations, along with Category III FPIs under the Erstwhile FPI Regulations. Hence, with one stroke of the pen, Mauritius based FPIs became disentitled for Category I status as Mauritius is not an FATF member.
Continue Reading Back to the Future: Restoring the Mauritius Route for FPI investments

Barbarians at the gate – no entry without approval

To say that the Covid-19 has unleashed unprecedented times is an understatement. Every country, government, regulator and citizen across the globe is trying to come to terms with the implications of this deadly virus and surviving it. It is indeed a Hobson’s Choice – to save lives or to save the economy. But several countries, in said and unsaid words, have expressed vulnerability to the corporate raiders from China! They are literally at the gate and it has become a cause of worry for most governments and corporations.

Japan has proposed building an economy that is less dependent on China, so that Japan can mitigate supply chain disruptions caused by the current Covid-19 pandemic. To this end, Japan announced an emergency economic package on April 7, 2020, earmarking 240 billion yen (approximately USD 2.2 billion) for fiscal 2020 to pay  Japanese manufacturing firms to leave China and relocate production either to their home country or to diversify their production bases into South East Asia. Australia, Italy, Spain, and Germany have announced amendments to their respective foreign investment laws to make acquisitions and takeovers by foreigners much harder. So has the European Union. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA) of the United States has seen increased review of foreign investments under the Trump administration due to security and national interest concerns.
Continue Reading Raising the Wall – No Entry without Approval

Corporate house-keeping during a crisis

Secretarial compliances, periodic reporting and disclosure requirements, programmed into the DNA of listed companies, often proceed seamlessly following protocols defined by the legal regime and industry best practices. However, with social distancing advisories changing the way in which corporate India goes to work, management and secretarial teams will need to re-assess established protocols and approach day to day internal housekeeping matters a little differently in the coming months.
Continue Reading Corporate house-keeping during a crisis

 REITs in India - Some predictions for the next 24 months

  • Tenant-landlord dynamics are likely to change. In the short term, tenants may seek dispensation, moratoriums or discounts to their payment obligations, on the grounds of force majeure or otherwise. In the medium term, there will be an expectation from developers to increase spend on social wellness and hygiene infrastructure.
  • The forced experiment of remote working may become a norm for certain businesses and have an impact on the flexi-working policies of all businesses, one way or another. As a result, tenants may reassess their space utilisation requirements, and developers, their ability to offer IT infrastructure, which can enable seamless connectivity for their tenants.


Continue Reading REITs in India: Some predictions for the next 24 months (and beyond)

 Post-Listing Frameworks for REITs

REIT IT RIGHT

An eight-part series covering the commercial and legal considerations of REIT listings in India. The previous parts can be accessed here – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 .

Investor protection forms the bedrock of securities laws frameworks around the world with securities regulators putting in place meticulous and stringent governance, reporting as well as compliance frameworks for listed entities. The Indian securities regulator  has also prescribed a labyrinthine set of laws for post-listing reporting and corporate governance compliances by listed companies.

In stark contrast, however, the present regulatory framework for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in India offers limited guidance on post-listing compliances by listed REITs, mandating few compliances (mainly in relation to financial reporting, annual and half-yearly disclosures and investor grievances) and remaining silent on the applicability of a vast number of other obligations (including in relation to prevention of insider trading, takeovers and acquisitions, open offers etc.) which are typically applicable to listed companies.
Continue Reading Part V – Post-Listing Frameworks for REITs – A Giant Jigsaw with many a Missing Piece

  Taxation of REITs in India

 

*An eight-part series covering the commercial and legal considerations of REIT listings in India. Click here to read Part III.

The Government started putting in place a framework for taxation of business trusts even before the regulations governing Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) were notified by the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI). This was not without reason – progressive regulations and tax reforms have influenced the progress of REITs globally, with REIT markets witnessing sudden growth spurts in countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong almost immediately following favourable tax amendments.

Closer home, five years and multiple amendments later, the Indian tax regime for REITs is a complex proposition and comes with a wishlist from nearly all stakeholders involved in a typical REIT. With Indian real estate likely to provide investment opportunity worth up to USD 77 bn through REIT-eligible commercial office and retail properties across India’s top seven cities by 2020[1], there can be no better time to look at some of the key issues.
Continue Reading Part IV – Taxation of REITs in India

Amendments to the ECB Policy - A Big Boost for Cross-Border Financings

Given prevailing market conditions, Indian corporates have increasingly been facing issues in accessing credit from onshore loan and debt capital markets. Recent Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regulations aimed at growing the debt capital market in India and reducing dependence of corporate India on loans from the Indian banking sector require that certain Indian companies must necessarily fund a specified percentage of their debt requirements by issuing bonds.

The forthcoming implementation of new norms on single and group exposures for the Indian banking system is also resulting in some of the larger corporates having to look at other options beyond their preferred relationship banks onshore for meeting their debt funding requirements. Both the non-banking sector and the mutual fund industry in India – significant sources for onshore debt markets – are also currently grappling with their own set of challenges. In this environment, these amendments to the External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) framework are most welcome as they will allow Indian companies to look at tapping the offshore loan and bond markets for raising debt capital.
Continue Reading Amendments to the ECB Policy – A Big Boost for Cross-Border Financings?

REIT IPO Exit

*An eight-part series covering the commercial and legal considerations of REIT listings in India. Click here to read Part 2.

Institutional investors have demonstrated a steadfast interest in Indian real estate in recent years. Private equity investments in the real estate sector peaked at $2.5 billion in the first quarter of 2019 – the highest since 2008.[1] With the lion’s share of investments being cornered by commercial office spaces, retail and hospitality sectors, the introduction of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) framework in India comes at an opportune time, providing investors with an additional avenue for potential exits.

However, as the dust settles over India’s first REIT listing, it is now apparent that a REIT IPO is vastly different and distinct from an IPO by a company in many respects. Given the inherent intricacies and nuances of the REIT framework, investors seeking to exit via a REIT listing will need to re-calibrate, re-assess, and re-think their investment strategies, holding structures, investment documentation as well as exit horizons to expediently navigate the new regime.
Continue Reading Part III – Exit Stage: Preparing for a REIT IPO Exit

What’s So Real About Real Estate Anyway?

*An eight-part series covering the commercial and legal considerations of REIT listings in India. Click here to read Part 1.

India is an outlier in global Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) regimes. It is the only country with dedicated legislation for REITs and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (while the US and Japan permit REITs to hold certain infrastructure assets, there is no separate legislation). In a way, this showcases the maturity of the regulatory thought process, and it has already been recognised that there is a compelling case for other developed jurisdictions to introduce a similar InvIT model, which meets the needs of investors as well as protects existing REIT legislation (Source: EY – Global perspectives, 2018 REIT Report).

On a standalone basis, ‘non-traditional’ REITs listed only in the US are the second-largest REIT sector globally (with a market cap of USD 480 billion). These non-traditional asset types include healthcare, data centres, billboards, communication towers, student accommodation, single family rental and fiber optic transmission lines (Source: EY – Global perspectives, 2018 REIT Report). Surprisingly, if most of these asset classes were to plan a REIT listing in India, they would have to think twice – their assets may or may not be eligible ‘real estate’ within the meaning of the REIT Regulations. Which brings us to the question, what exactly is real estate for the purpose of the REIT Regulations?


Continue Reading Part II – What’s So Real About Real Estate Anyway?