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Managing Partner of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. With over 37 years of experience, Cyril is regarded as the leading and authoritative figure in corporate law in India. He can be reached at cyril.shroff@cyrilshroff.com.

Indian Insolvency Law responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic- Part-II

Introduction

On June 5, 2020, the President of India promulgated the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 (“Ordinance”), in furtherance to the economic measures announced by the Ministry of Finance[1] to support Indian businesses impacted by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ordinance has introduced the following amendments to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC”) (effective immediately):

  • Section 10A has been inserted in the IBC, restricting filing of any application for initiation of the corporate insolvency resolution process (“CIRP”) of a corporate debtor (being a company or a limited liability partnership) for any default[2] arising after March 25, 2020, for a period of six months or such further period, not exceeding one year from March 25, 2020, as may be notified in this behalf (such period being “Specified Period”).[3]

Further, a proviso has been inserted in section 10A to specify that no application shall ever be filed for initiation of CIRP of a corporate debtor for the said default occurring during the Specified Period i.e. CIRP can never be initiated on the basis of a default during the Specified Period, even if the default is continuing after having occurred during the Specified Period.

  • A non-obstante clause has been inserted in to section 66 (Fraudulent trading or wrongful trading) of the IBC to give protection to the directors of a corporate debtor. Accordingly, no application can be filed by a resolution professional under sub-section 66(2), in respect of such defaults against which initiation of CIRP is suspended under Section 10A of the IBC.[4]


Continue Reading Indian Insolvency Law responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic- Part-II

Indian Insolvency Law responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic

With more than three lakh confirmed cases and 14 thousand deaths across 190 countries, the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has caused (and continues to cause) unprecedented disruptions in the global political, social and economic environment. India has not remained untouched from this. With almost 500 confirmed cases and the country in lock-down mode to prevent further outbreak, social and economic activities have come to a grinding halt.

The pandemic has forced governments across the world to impose restrictions on working and travel conditions as well as human movement. The severity of the situation requires quick and decisive action from the Government and all sections of the economy to prevent ‘deepening’ of the crisis.
Continue Reading Indian Insolvency Law responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic

 Control deals Tender offers 2019 - Takeover regulations

Control deals are gaining popularity because of the ability of the incoming controlling shareholder to control the ‘when’ and ‘how’ of the functioning of the business that is housed in the company. Additionally, the stigma associated with promoter’s relinquishing control of their companies is on the wane in India. Despite the market conditions, 2019 saw a fair deal of control transactions in the country. For such category of deals, calendar year 2019 was comparable to calendar year 2018 in number and value terms.

In this blog, we are sharing with you our analysis of control transactions in which exit was offered to public shareholders through the tender offer route in 2019[1], under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations). We will be sharing a detailed report on the 2019 activity of such transactions separately.
Continue Reading Control Deals Involving Tender Offers: Flashback 2019

SEBI’s Latest Discussion Paper on Insider Trading Regulations

Prosecuting insider trading cases has always been a challenge for the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Primary evidence is difficult to come by, which impacts success rates as well as investigation timelines.

On June 10, 2019, SEBI released a discussion paper (Discussion Paper) proposing amendments to the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (Insider Trading Regulations) to establish systems and processes (both within listed companies, as well as, at SEBI) that incentivise individuals to report insider trading violations, if they come to their knowledge. In terms of the Discussion Paper, the informant may be rewarded up to INR 1 crore (approx. USD 150,000) if SEBI undertakes disgorgement of at least INR 5 crores (approx. USD 0.72 million) as a result of any action taken on the basis of true, credible and original information.
Continue Reading Bounty Hunting in Corporate India – Understanding SEBI’s Latest Discussion Paper on the Insider Trading Regulations

 

P2P lending in India Rules and Regulations

Fintech has massively transformed money flow and settlement transactions among millennials. Out of numerous existing fintech models, one is peer to peer (P2P) lending. P2P lending platforms play the role of an intermediary between two individuals, the lender and the borrower. With the upscaling growth rate of such platforms it has become a target for regulatory attention and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) came up with regulation on October 4, 2017, vide the master direction bearing number DNBR(PD) 090/0.10.124/2017-18 (Master Direction) on non-banking financial peer-to-peer lending platforms.[1]

The Master Direction covers all prospective and existing P2P platforms (NBFC-P2P), which perform as P2P lending platforms on the fulfilment of certain conditions (one of which includes holding a net-owned fund of INR 2 crore). These registered P2P lending platforms would appear on the RBI list of registered NBFC-P2Ps as and when granted the certificate of registration. As per the last updated list[2], there are 11 NBFC- P2Ps registered while more than 50 still exist and are awaiting clearance from the RBI, Department of Non-Banking Regulation, Mumbai.
Continue Reading Peer to Peer Lending in India: A Chinese Lesson Well Learnt!

 Tender offers in India 2018

January to December 2018 was a more active year compared to 2017 for tender offers made under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations).

Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) saw a particularly high number of tender offers. These included tender offers for Tourism Finance Corporation of India Limited, Pranami Credits Limited and LKP Finance Limited. But while the NBFC space may have had the greatest number of tender offers, the highest tender offers in terms of size/value were in banking (IDBI Bank Limited), healthcare (Fortis Healthcare Limited), pharmaceuticals (Merck Limited), and cable & broadband (Hathway Cable and Datacom Limited and Den Networks Limited) sectors.
Continue Reading Tender Offers in 2018: The Year That Was

A Brief Conceptual Background

The discourse on corporate governance has been garnering considerable attention in the public domain in India, mainly due to the introduction of the Companies Act, 2013 (“Act”), the steps being taken by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) in promoting governance, and the escalating activism of shareholders and proxy advisory firms (“PAFs”) in the public markets.

The corporate governance regime in India has been implemented mostly reactively, thus far. One of the reasons could be the prevalence of the family-owned businesses in India which present a distinct and additional set of governance concerns such as safeguarding the interests of minority shareholders, the fiduciary duty (if any) of the promoter(s) to minority shareholders and the duties of the board of directors in conflict situations. As such, this feature may have effectively prevented Indian regulators from adopting the governance frameworks implemented in more evolved jurisdictions like the UK or the USA. Even Germany, where the corporate ecosystem is comprised of large family-owned businesses like India, could not have an appropriate reference point for Indian regulators, given the board structures there. To elaborate, German corporations have adopted a two-tier board structure whereby representation is mandatorily available to employees on the upper tier (supervisory) board. As such, this prevalence of family owned concerns could have been one of the reasons why the Indian corporate governance regime has largely remained prescriptive and reactive.


Continue Reading Corporate Governance & Shareholder Activism

Over the last few years, there has been considerable debate in Indian corporate legal circles around the interpretation of the term ‘control’ as defined under the SEBI (SAST) Regulations, 2011 ( “Regulations”). To those unaware of this issue, the question, simply put, is this: if an investor seeks to invest in an Indian listed entity (“Target”) and as a part of its investment terms requests for and obtains, certain contractual rights that are not available to other shareholders of the Targets (“Special Rights”), would such Special Rights amount to acquisition of ‘control’ of the Target by the investor for the purposes of the Regulations? The genesis of such debate may owe its origins to conflicting definitions of ‘control’ by Indian courts and legislators or interpretations of ‘control’ by Indian regulators but that would not be the focus of the current post. Nonetheless, there is no exhaustive definition of ‘control’ and recognising its impact on deal making and M&A in the public space in India, India’s securities markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) in March of 2016 initiated the process to define ‘control’ by proposing certain bright line tests (“BLTs”).

Continue Reading Brightlining ‘Control’