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

Morning Mumbai mist, hot coffee and the 1986 song ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe is playing in the background – life seems blissful! And it was mostly so for the Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) industry. As we begin the run-up to Budget 2018, we look back at the milestones crossed in 2017 and the goalposts set for 2018 – and we focus on the key hits, misses and asks of the AIF industry.

2017: Key Highlights 

  • Investment by Banks in Category II AIFs: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) amended the Reserve Bank of India (Financial Services provided by Banks) Directions, 2016 permitting banks to invest in Category II AIFs up to a maximum cap of 10% corpus of such AIF. With Category II AIFs constituting nearly 50% of the total number of AIFs registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), this amendment sets the roadmap for channeling domestic savings into productive alternate assets and, at the same time, provides banks with the ability to earn a risk-adjusted return, thereby boosting the overall Return on Equity for its stakeholders.

Continue Reading It’s the Final Countdown: Achievements by and Expectations of the AIF Industry

Image credit: Scroll.in, September 26, 2017

This is the fourth 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.


The world is becoming corporatised, and the time of the business owner living over his little shop are well-nigh over. The world is also becoming smaller and, as it does, a business’s reach spreads across multiple jurisdictions and through multiple subsidiary or group companies.

In this age of corporatisation, most jurisdictions recognise the concept of a company as a separate juristic person, with an identity distinct and independent of its shareholders, members or directors. This corporate existence separates a company’s identity from that of its promoters or shareholders. It enables the company to contract in its own name, with its shareholders and third parties, to acquire and hold property in its own name, and to sue and be sued in its own name. A company has perpetual succession; its life is not co-dependent with that of its shareholders and it remains in existence irrespective of any change in its members, until it is dissolved by liquidation. The shareholders of a company are not identified with the company and cannot be held personally liable for acts undertaken by, or liabilities of, the company.

This independence or distinction is not a new concept. In the late 19th Century, the judgment in the classic case of Salomon v. Salomon[1] was passed, ruling that a company is a separate legal entity distinct from its members and so insulating Mr. Salomon, the founder of A. Salomon and Company, Ltd., from personal liability to the creditors of the company he founded.

Continue Reading LIC v. Escorts and Beyond – Lifting the Corporate Veil

In the case of Wiki Kids Limited[1], the NCLAT upheld the order of the NCLT rejecting a scheme of amalgamation, as it resulted in undue advantage to the promoters of the amalgamating company.

Facts

Background

In the instant case, a non-listed company Wiki Kids Limited (Transferor Company), wished to amalgamate with Avantel Limited, a listed company (Transferee Company). For the aforesaid purpose, these entities (collectively referred to as Appellants) had proposed a scheme of amalgamation (Scheme) and approached the Andhra Pradesh High Court, seeking directions with respect to the meetings of the shareholders, and secured and unsecured creditors in the Scheme.

Pursuant to the directions of the High Court, the Scheme was approved by the shareholders of the Transferee Company. In the meantime, in view of a notification of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs dated December 7, 2016, the case was transferred to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The Appellants, accordingly, filed a second motion before the Hyderabad Bench of the NCLT. The NCLT, on perusal of various documents including the share exchange ratio and the valuation report, rejected the Scheme on the ground that it was beneficial to the common promoters of the Appellants and no public interest was being served.

Continue Reading NCLT Can Reject a Scheme of Arrangement if it is not in Public Interest

In the initial years of wireless telephony in India, radio spectrum was administratively allotted to licensees. However, following the recommendations of the National Telecom Policy, 2012, and the decision of the Apex Court in the case of Centre for Public Interest Litigation v. Union of India,[1] the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) de-bundled spectrum allotment from the grant of licenses, and adopted an auction-based price-discovery mechanism for spectrum allotment.

Scarce radio spectrum resources have typically been considered as bottleneck assets, and therefore auctions provide an effective means of price discovery, help maximise revenue for the Government, and ensure optimal allocation of spectrum resources. However, excessive reliance on bid markets risks overlooking potential market failures attributable to enterprises attempting to monopolise bottleneck assets such as spectrum.

Recognising the need to ensure that no one operator should be able to monopolise scarce spectrum resources to the detriment of its competitors and consumers, the DoT, in successive Notice Inviting Applications (NIAs) has prescribed ceilings for the amount of spectrum that can be held by any telecommunications operator in a given band within a Licensed Service Area (LSA), as well as a ceiling on the total amount of spectrum that can be held by an operator across all bands in an LSA. Presently, these stand at 50% of any given spectrum band in an LSA, and 25% of the overall spectrum available in such LSA across all bands. These restrictions have also been incorporated into the Mergers and Acquisitions Guidelines of 2014 (M&A Guidelines) as prescribed by the DoT.

Continue Reading Time to Revisit Spectrum Caps and Market Shares

On January 10, 2018, the Indian Cabinet gave its approval to a number of major amendments to the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy of India, to further liberalise and simplify the same. This is to increase the ease of doing business in the country, and continue to attract much needed foreign capital to fuel India’s growth. In this post, we examine the latest amendments and their impact on the crucial sectors involved therein.

Key Reforms

Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT)

The latest amendment has brought sweeping changes in FDI norms for SBRT, thereby enticing significant foreign brands into India’s promising retail space.

The current FDI Policy on SBRT allows 49% FDI under the automatic route, and FDI beyond that and up to 100% through the Government approval route. Earlier, a sourcing norm was also attached to such an investment. This meant that investors were required to source 30% of the value of goods purchased for their Indian businesses through local sources. Several investors have had to spend a significant amount of time developing good local suppliers as partners and their inability to procure locally proved a major stumbling block in setting up their business in India.

Continue Reading Cabinet Approves Major Changes in FDI Policy

M&A activity in India has reached USD 46.5 billion in 2017 and is predicted to hit USD 52.8 billion in 2019.[1] There are many reasons for this spike, and one important reason is consolidation among domestic players. The potential opportunities driving consolidation among domestic players are as follows:

  • Expansion of customer base

Post the proposed Vodafone-Idea merger, the combined subscriber count of the merged entity is expected to be around 39 crores with 35% of the market share, making the combined entity the largest operator in India and the second largest in the world.[2] Its nearest competitor, Bharti Airtel, currently has 24.21% of the market share.

The acquisition of BSS Microfinance by Kotak Mahindra Bank led to Kotak’s entry into the micro-lending sector and provided it access to approximately 271,000 customers of BSS.

In the pharma sector, the recent acquisition of Strides Shasuns’ drug brands in India by Eris Lifescience will enable Eris to break into the league of top 25 companies that have a market share of more than 1% in the pharmaceutical sector[3].

Continue Reading The M&A Activity Spike: Consolidation Among Domestic Players

January to December 2017 saw 56[1] tender offers/open offers made under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (Takeover Regulations), 41 of which have been completed. This compares to 63 open offers made in the calendar year 2016.

For 2017, the total value of open offers made to the shareholders was Rs. 2,015[2] crores as against Rs. 9,676 crores for 2016. In 2017, no open offers were made by a private equity fund as compared to three made in 2016.[3]

Companies in the non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) space saw a particularly high number of open offers (11 in all). Some of these were open offers for Upasana Finance Limited, Capital India Finance Limited, Dhanvarsha Finvest Limited, Golden Goenka Fincorp Limited, Lark Trading and Finance Limited, Chokhani Securities Limited and TRC Financial Services Limited. However, some of these have not closed, probably due to delays in receiving regulatory approval for change in control of the NBFCs.

Continue Reading Tender Offers – 2017: The Year that Was

* This piece was first published in the The Economic Times Family Business Forum


Corporate governance has become extremely topical for India Inc. over the last year or so. A few prominent governance and leadership battles contributed to our securities market regulator, SEBI, to convene a senior committee to examine this thorny issue. Interestingly, ‘good’ governance in the Indian context is not a new concept: India had ancient guiding scriptures such as the Arthashastra and the Manusmriti, propounding that the “Raja” (i.e. the King) and his ministers must follow a strict code of discipline which furthers the best interests of their “Praja” (i.e. the subjects). Perhaps history needs to repeat itself.

Today’s competitive and dynamic business environment requires a balanced blend of a sustainable growth model coupled with sound governance. Since the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, Corporate India has accepted this as the “new normal” to survive this period of transition. However, practical reality is far from ideal.

To help fix these governance issues, the Kotak Committee Report on Corporate Governance, released on October 5th, 2017, formed under the chairmanship of Mr. Uday Kotak (“Report”), proposed a slew of far reaching changes, whose impact will be far reaching in the Indian promoter context. This article examines a few changes.

Continue Reading The ‘Raja’ & the ‘Praja’: Changing Dynamics in Corporate India

Three years ago, India’s Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, had expressed his desire to see India amongst the top 50 nations in terms of ease of doing business.

On October 31st, 2017 with the release of the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2018 (Report), this dream is now racing towards to becoming a reality. After continuous and vigorous legislative overhauling, coupled with regulatory and infrastructural reforms, India surged up 30 places to the 100th rank among 190 countries. The Report lists India as one of the 10 improvers this year. We briefly explore the key reforms which have led to this historic jump in the rankings.

Leaps Across Sectors

The Report is based on how easy it is for companies to do business, and it also takes into account certain regulations based on 10 parameters, which are listed below. India has improved its standing in 6 out of these 10 indicators. These are as follows:

Continue Reading India Makes it into Top 100 in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ Rankings