In alignment with the Indian Government’s continuing efforts to bolster foreign investment and ease of doing business in India, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued two important circulars in June 2018 with the aim of simplifying reporting under the Foreign Exchange and Management Act, 1999 (FEMA). The circulars are as follows:

Simplifying reporting under FEMA - RBI Circular

Currently all foreign investment transactions are reported in a complicated, disintegrated manner across various platforms/modes. The Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident Outside India) Regulations, 2017 (FEMA 20) provide for exhaustive reporting requirements for any foreign investment in India through 12 different forms[1]. Meeting these requirements had become a cumbersome process for foreign investors as well as Indian entities. 

Continue Reading India Simplifies Foreign Investment Reporting Process

From January 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018, the open offers launched under the SEBI Takeover Regulations for listed non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) constitute approximately 23.7% out of the total open offers during this period. In the calendar year 2018 (to May 31, 2018), the percentage of open offers for NBFCs out of the total open offers launched in this period is 23%, demonstrating significant interest in one particular sector in the listed space as opposed to others. As per our study, the following diagram illustrates the open offer activity from January 1, 2018 to May 31, 2018:

Open Offer Activitiy , Indian Sector Specific


Attractiveness of NBFCs

NBFCs are an important alternative source of financing. Given that banks are prohibited from funding M&A transactions, NBFCs fit in perfectly. In addition to this, that there have been few positive developments in the past couple of years that have increased the attractiveness of NBFCs. In August 2016, the Government extended the applicability[1] of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 to 196 systemically-important NBFCs to enable them to enforce security interest in relation to secured debt of Indian Rupees one crore or more.

Continue Reading Takeover of Listed NBFCs: An Analysis of Current Trends

In its judgment pronounced on May 9, 2018, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Allahabad, in the case of ICICI Bank Limited v. Mr. Anuj Jain (Resolution Professional of Jaypee Infratech Limited), addressed the issue of the rights of third-party security holders of a corporate debtor under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).

The judgment negated ICICI Bank Limited’s contention that it should be considered a financial creditor of Jaypee Infratech Limited, the corporate debtor. ICICI Bank’s claim was based on the corporate debtor having created mortgages on its property to secure loans provided to Jaiprakash Associates Limited, the holding company of the corporate debtor. The NCLT concluded that there was no financial debt owed to ICICI Bank by the corporate debtor, and so it could not be considered a financial creditor of the corporate debtor.

We consider here the correctness of the judgment and whether the NCLT has considered all the implications of its finding.

Continue Reading Is a Third-Party Security Holder a Financial Creditor Under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code?

On 1 May 2018, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) released the much-awaited Draft National Digital Communications Policy – 2018 (Draft Policy) for public comments. The Draft Policy aims to give direction not only to the telecom market but also to digital communications and prepares the country for the future. The policy, when finalised, will act as a framework for all future legal and regulatory changes/ development in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

The Draft Policy proposes the restructuring of the legal, licensing and regulatory framework including amendments to the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and related legislation, so as to enable the utilisation of newer/ advanced technologies/ convergence. Many stakeholders would suspect the same shall result in unrestricted interconnection between the internet protocol (IP) and Public Switched Telephone (PSTN) networks. The Draft Policy intends introduction of a light touch regulatory regime for various services such as over-the-top (OTT) that allows providers to stream content via the internet, cloud computing, data centres, etc. The Draft Policy also makes clear the requirement to amend terms and conditions for other service providers (OSPs). It further suggests establishing a unified policy framework and spectrum management regime.

Continue Reading Draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018: Restructuring the Legal and Regulatory Regime

Most sectors of the economy have been completely liberalised for foreign direct investment (FDI) and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) was abolished in June 2017. Policy watchers in this space were, therefore, taken unawares by a cryptic announcement by the Ministry of Finance on 16 April, 2018, on the “Minimum capital requirements for ‘other financial service’ activities which are unregulated by any financial sector regulator and FDI is allowed under government route”.

Why the Press Release

To put it in perspective, this announcement has its genesis in the RBI’s FEMA Notification No. 375/2016-RB dated September 9, 2016, which was a big ticket change, doing away with the nearly two decades old stipulation of minimum capitalisation in the NBFC sector. The playing field was thus levelled and the financial sector regulations could prevail in an ownership agnostic fashion.

The formal Press Note announcing this change in fact came subsequently (see Press Note 6 of 2016 dated October 25, 2016). FEMA 375 firmly placed all regulated financial services activities in the fold of the respective financial regulators, instead of the latter having to concern themselves with the ownership pattern of the entity.

FEMA 375, however, laid down that activities that are not regulated by any regulator, or where only part of the activity is regulated, or where there is doubt regarding regulatory oversight, approval would need to be obtained from the Government with attendant minimum capitalisation requirements as may be decided by the Government. It is not known , in the public domain, as to how many approvals in the ‘unregulated financial services’ space have actually been accorded post issuance of FEMA 375. This information would have been useful. Be that as it may, what has been set out in the press release of April 16, 2018 is perhaps the way for the future.

Continue Reading FDI and Unregulated Financial Services

There have been some very wide sweeping and deep impact changes in the business and economic environment over the past few years, many of which have also had a strong social impact. While some changes could be considered political, there are many changes that have happened basically because the government of the day chose to bite the bullet. These were long overdue and just couldn’t be kicked any further down the road – to put it succinctly, “the time had come”.

India’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy, which has its genesis in the liberalisation era beginning in the early 1990s, had always been subject to periodic incremental relaxation of sectoral caps and other easing measures. However, after years of a gradualist mode, the current decade has seen more dramatic shifts in the hitherto entrenched position in respect to FDI in various sectors. The ultimate measure was of course the abolition in June 2017 of the two and half decades old Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), the inter-ministerial body that granted ‘prior government approval’ in mandated sectors.

The demise of this institution regarded as venerable by some and obstructionist by others, met as expected, with a mixed response. With nearly 95% of the FDI inflows in the country already coming in through the automatic route, the utility and need for such a body was clearly on the wane; practitioners were, however, apprehensive of the absence of the body, which had become the proverbial ‘go to place’ for clarifications and was the last port of call for policy intervention in case of need.

With the formal dissolution of the FIPB at the end of June 2017, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was put in place whereby the sectors / activities / transactions that required government approval were mandated to approach the respective administrative ministries for the same. Simultaneously, the FIPB portal was literally morphed into the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FIFP), bringing with it bare essential changes to name and ownership, but virtually nothing more.

Continue Reading FDI Policy – So What’s New?

Previously, the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 (Act) governing inbound and outbound mergers, amalgamations or arrangements between Indian companies and foreign companies (Cross Border Mergers) were notified by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs on April 13th, 2017. Subsequently, on April 26th, 2017, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued draft regulations to govern Cross Border Mergers (Draft RBI Regulation).

We had published an earlier blog piece on this, discussing the key highlights of the Draft RBI Regulation, which is available here.

It has been close to a year since the Draft RBI Regulation and on March 20th, 2018, the RBI has finally notified the Foreign Exchange Management (Cross Border Merger) Regulations, 2018 (Merger Regulation). This article briefly analyses the key changes brought about in the Merger Regulation and its implications.

Continue Reading India finally notifies Cross Border Merger Regulations

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), since its enactment, has been a subject of great discussion and debate, both in the Industry as well as in the legal fraternity. This strong divide continues between those who consider it a necessary step (based on the abysmal rates of recovery of defaulted loans) and those who classify it as a ‘draconian legislation’. Given the division of views, it was expected that the IBC would be subject to legal and constitutional challenges.

This piece relates to one such challenge, and the first such judgement, on the constitutionality of provisions of the IBC.

The Supreme Court says: Do not examine constitutional validity

Interestingly, the Supreme Court, apprehending the largescale consequences of such challenges, advised the High Court of Gujarat in its order dated January 25, 2018 passed in Shivam Water Treaters Private Limited Vs Union of India & Ors[1], not to enter into the debate around the constitutional validity of the IBC. The Supreme Court observed that, “The High Court is requested not to enter into the debate pertaining to the validity of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 or the constitutional validity of the National Company Law Tribunal.

Challenge of Constitutional Validity before the High Court at Calcutta

In November 2017, a challenge to constitutionality of provisions of the IBC was initiated before the High Court at Calcutta[2]. After hearing arguments, the High Court reserved its judgement on the issues on December 15, 2017, which was well before the order of the Supreme Court in the Shivam Water Treaters case. The challenge arose consequent to an order of the Kolkata bench of the National Company Law Tribunal, which admitted an insolvency resolution petition filed by a financial creditor (Sberbank of Russia) against a corporate debtor (Varrsana Ispat Limited).

Continue Reading Constitutionality of the IBC Upheld

Image credit: Scroll.in, September 26, 2017

This is the fifth blog piece in our series entitled “Those Were the Days”, which is published monthly. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we have enjoyed putting this together.


India’s judiciary has been known for judicial activism with the Supreme Court often deciding to intervene, not just to strike down laws that are held to be unconstitutional, but also in governance, which many believe ought to be the exclusive domain of the executive. While opinion is divided about the desirability of judicial activism, most would agree that it is the judiciary and its fearless will to intervene and deliver justice, even at the risk of stepping into the domain of the legislature or the executive, which has preserved democratic process over the years.

Unfortunately, rampant judicial activism has given rise to an inevitable debate about the balance of powers between the “three pillars of democracy” and then, as a corollary, the question of the manner in which Judges are appointed in the first place. The prevalent “Collegium System” has been severely criticised, as being non-transparent and prone to nepotism, with several jurists and respected members of the bar themselves pointing out that in no other large democracy does an institution so powerful, choose its own members. The time is therefore right to look closely at the history of how the “Collegium System” evolved, through what is known as the Three Judges Cases.

Continue Reading Should the Judges Cases be Revisited?

Despite several existing schemes and interventions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the problem of bad debt has plagued the Indian banking system. For years, various high value accounts have undergone restructurings that have not resolved stress or the underlying imbalance in the capital structure, or addressed the viability of the business.

The existing RBI stipulated resolution mechanism included corporate debt restructuring (CDR), strategic debt restructuring (SDR), change in ownership outside the strategic debt restructuring (Outside SDR), the scheme for sustainable restructuring of stressed assets (S4A), etc. All of these were implemented under the framework of the Joint Lenders’ Forum (JLF).

On February 12, 2018, the RBI decided to completely revamp the guidelines on the resolution of stressed assets and withdrew all its existing guidelines and schemes. The guidelines/framework for JLF was also discontinued.

The New Framework

The new framework requires that as soon as there is a default in a borrower entity’s account with any lender, the lenders shall formulate a resolution plan. This may involve any action, plan or reorganisation including change in ownership, restructuring or sale of exposure etc. The resolution plan is to be clearly documented by all the lenders even where there is no change in any terms and conditions.

Continue Reading Overhaul of Stressed Assets Resolution