Photo of Subhojit Sadhu

Partner in the Projects and Project Finance practice at the Mumbai office of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Subhojit has a wide range of experience in banking, projects, project financing, structured financing and debt restructuring across various sectors including Solar, Wind, Road, Thermal, Oil & Gas, Transmission, Real Estate, Ports, Hydro, Warehousing, Aviation, Automobile. He can be reached at subhojit.sadhu@cyrilshroff.com

NeSL - THE NEW WAY OF ELECTRONIC EXECUTION

 INTRODUCTION

Execution of a document means the placement of signatures by all persons who are required by the character of the instrument to sign the same in order to give it a binding effect under law. It is based on the classic principle of consensus ad idem i.e. two parties entering a contract should agree upon the same thing in the same sense. One amongst the many problems for closure of transactions posed by COVID-19 is the mechanism of execution of documents. The traditional way of executing agreements involved the parties to be physically present at a place and affix the signatures, stamps, common seals, etc., along with paying the necessary stamp duty as prescribed under the relevant stamp laws. However, with the imposition of a nationwide lockdown, travel restrictions and norms of social distancing in place, the manner of execution of documents has had to be reimagined.
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The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the society in an unanticipated and unprecedented way. To contain its spread, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India vide its order dated March 24, 2020 directed closure of commercial and private establishments for a period of twenty one days. Immediately thereafter, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) issued an order dated March 25, 2020 directing the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to take action as per the said MHA order (including suspension of tolling operations on the toll plazas) and added that prevailing condition may be treated as ‘force majeure’ under the concession agreements executed by NHAI with the developers.

MoRTH thereafter directed NHAI to resume toll collections from April 20, 2020. However, the suspension of toll operations until April 20, 2020, the lockdown period thereafter and the steep fall of the traffic plying on the national highways, has significantly impacted the entire transportation industry, exposing developers to high risk and financial distress with no visibility of normalcy in the near future.


Continue Reading Covid-19: Bumpy roads ahead for Highway Sector

After more than three months of lockdown, there is no denying that the Indian economy has been impacted. This is also evidenced by the stimulus packages announced by the Government of India, in an attempt to protect and revive the economy. With most people staying indoors 24*7, electricity consumption in the commercial sector was also impacted initially, although the levels have been restored in a phased manner. This coupled with different lockdown strategies in different states, is also continuing to impact business at large. Taking into account the impact of COVID-19 across the globe, and the lockdown in the country, the government of India and certain central agencies have been providing clarification and issuing memorandums/notifications to guide the infrastructure industry, specifically the renewable energy (RE) sector, and RE projects in terms of COVID-19 being declared as a force majeure (FM).


Continue Reading COVID-19 Cloud Cover: Not so sunny times for renewable energy sector!

To battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the central government and the various state governments imposed a nationwide lockdown in India. Additionally, to arrest the spread of the pandemic, government authorities and corporates are promoting “work from home”, and wherever necessary to work with minimum work force. Acknowledging the difficulties faced by corporates on account of the threat posed by COVID-19, requiring social distancing in day-to-day functioning, governmental authorities have granted various exemptions and reliefs by issuing circulars and amending rules to ease compliance requirements to be complied by companies.

This blog analyses the recent reliefs and relaxations announced by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India (MCA), and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which may have an impact on financing transactions.


Continue Reading Social Distancing while approving financing transactions: MCA, SEBI Relaxations

Covid-19 – Navigating choppy waters for Port Projects

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedent crisis throughout the world and has caused widespread disruptions in normal operations across industries and life in general. In India, the National Disaster Management Authority determined that India was threatened by the spread of Covid-19 pandemic and took steps to prevent the spread of the pandemic in the country under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. On March 24, 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs declared a 21-day lockdown under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 with effect from March 25, 2020. Such lockdown has been subsequently extended three times by the Ministry of Home Affairs and now remains in force till May 31, 2020.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has been issuing guidelines to determine the operation of essential and non-essential services during the period of lockdown and has attempted to restrict movement of persons throughout the country. The guidelines have caused States to close their borders and even movement within a State has been prohibited, unless it is in relation to an essential service. At the time of the first order of lockdown, the Ministry of Home Affairs excluded the ‘operation of seaports for cargo movement, relief and evacuation and their related operational organisations’ from the ambit of the lockdown. However, due to the disruptions in the supply chain, the inter-state and intra-state movement restrictions and the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an impact on operational as well as under construction port projects.
Continue Reading Covid-19 – Navigating Choppy Waters for Port Projects

Battling Covid -19 and Liquidity– The twin crisis of NBFC sector

While the health crisis has brought the country to its knees, the fatal blow seems to be coming our way from the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The exposure of the severely-stressed para banking industry to risky segments in these times has made it even more vulnerable to an economic slowdown.[1] With its asset quality deteriorating at an increasing rate, the liquidity in para banking industry has been squeezed off to its last drops.

The impact of the liquidity crisis across various classes of non-banking financial companies (“NBFCs”) may be analysed vis-à-vis the exposure it has towards the borrower segments whose economic activities have been severely impacted.  With the economic and consumption activities a bust in sectors such as real estate and micro-finance, the NBFCs with loan exposures in the said sectors will be hit the worst in the wave of this global pandemic. The increasing loan losses and inaccessibility to new capital is likely to exacerbate the liquidity stress.
Continue Reading Battling Covid-19 and Liquidity– The Twin Crisis of NBFC sector

How special are “special equities”- Analysis of invocation of bank guarantee during COVID-19

A pandemic, of the nature which affects the world today, has not visited us during the lifetime of any of us and, hopefully, would not visit us hereinafter either. The devastation, human, economic, social and political, that has resulted as a consequence thereof, is unprecedented. The measures, to which the executive administration has had to resort, to somehow contain the fury of the pandemic, are equally unprecedented. The situation of nationwide lockdown, in which we find ourselves today, has never, earlier, been imposed on the country. The imposition of the lockdown was by way of a sudden and emergent measure, of which no advance knowledge could be credited to the petitioner – or, indeed, to anyone else.” – C. Hari Shankar, J., April 20, 2020.

The above quote aptly sums up the current situation globally and domestically. The COVID-19 outbreak has created a void in terms of performance of commercial contracts and has in many cases left the parties on edge. Through this article, we aim to provide an insight into the orders passed by the judiciary during COVID-19, dealing with an otherwise settled issue i.e. the invocation of bank guarantee.
Continue Reading How special are “special equities”- Analysis of invocation of bank guarantee during COVID-19

Asset Classification - Be-hold

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequential countrywide lockdown, economic activities of almost all corporates, except those falling under essential services, have witnessed an unprecedented slowdown. As a result, cashflows and debt servicing capabilities of most borrowers have been seriously impacted, necessitating the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) to intervene and introduce a regulatory framework, enabling lenders to provide much needed relief to their borrowers.

This blog analyses the relaxation of the asset classification norms to be followed by a bank, with respect to a term loan[1] on account of the measures introduced by the RBI on March 27 and April 17, 2020 and related judicial pronouncements.
Continue Reading Asset Classification – Be-hold

Covid-19 - Flight Plan for Indian Aviation Industry

Covid-19 crisis has severely impacted almost all industries but disruptions in the airline industry is so profound that it is assumed to be greater than the combined crises of 9/11 and the 2008 global financial put together. The Government of India (acting through DGCA) (“GoI”) has vide its (i) order dated March 23, 2020 passed under Section 88(1) of the Aircraft Act, 1934; and (ii) orders dated March 26, 2020 and April 14, 2020 directed inter alia all aircraft operators to suspend the operations of all the domestic flights and all scheduled international commercial passenger services until May 3, 2020. The forward air travel bookings are far outweighed by the cancellations. Air travel demand is drying up in ways that are unprecedented with no semblance of normalcy on the horizon. For an industry which is already stressed, Covid-19 has only accelerated the process of bankruptcy filing by several companies (like Virgin Australia and Air Mauritius). Those airline companies which are still in business have also suffered misfortunes as coronavirus-forced lockdowns have kept their fleets grounded. Per the market sources, apart from the pay cut, several airline companies (Indigo, Go Airlines) have also taken other cost cutting measures including furloughs.
Continue Reading Covid-19: Flight Plan for Indian Aviation Industry

The idea of Mumbai Metro - Is the world developing or dying?

The Mumbai metro project (“Metro Project”) was conceptualised to develop an efficient and sustainable urban transport system in the financial capital of the country, involving  a significant investment of USD 2,500 million.[1] Every day some 80,00,000 commuters use the city’s suburban rail system, enabled through more than 2,800 trains a day. The network is severely overcrowded during peak hours when the number of passengers exceed the network’s carrying capacity by more than four times, leading to numerous safety hazards.[2]

Last year witnessed a massive protest for saving the Aarey milk colony located in suburban Goregaon (“Aarey’), a green belt with over 5,00,000 trees, a rarity in the concrete city. The construction of a metro car depot on the flood plains of the Mithi river at Aarey for expansion of metro services in the city received much wrath from environment activists, citizens and even courts for cutting down 2,600 trees overnight. While there is a stay on cutting more trees until the matter is sub-judice, the construction work of the Metro Project was not stopped, until the outbreak of a worldwide pandemic, COVID-19 or Coronavirus.
Continue Reading The Idea of Mumbai metro- Is the World Developing or Dying?