Role of IFSC in the Indian SPAC Dream

India, being one of the major consumers of international financial services, has been pushing the envelope on making itself the hub for such services. With this objective, the Government of India had operationalised India’s first (and currently the only) International Financial Services Centre (“IFSC”) at GIFT Multi Services Special Economic Zone (“SEZ”) in Gujarat in April 2015. In this regard and to further this objective, the International Financial Services Centres Authority Act was enacted in December 2019 to set up a unified regulator, viz the International Financial Services Centres Authority (“IFSCA”), which commenced operation in October 2020. The IFSCA has been vested with the roles and powers of four domestic regulators, namely the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (“IRDAI”), and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. IFSCA has been set up to develop and regulate financial institutions, financial services, and financial products within the IFSCs in India.


Continue Reading Role of IFSC in the Indian SPAC Dream: An Overview – Part 1

Extra-territorial application of India’s securities law – Has SEBI cast its net too wide?

If a connection exists, it is for the Legislature to decide how far it should go in the exercise of its powers.[1]

Introduction

The territorial application of laws made by Parliament is enshrined in Article 245 of the Constitution of India (“Constitution”). The universal presumption that laws made by a country are limited to its own territorial borders, is provided under Article 245(1) of the Constitution, which provides that “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India.” However, Article 245(2) of the Constitution carves out a specific exception providing that a law made by Parliament, pursuant to Article 245(1), shall not be invalidated on the ground that such a law would have extra-territorial operation. Most countries have enacted extra-territorial laws with the US being the clear leader in this regard having enacted anti-corruption law, securities laws etc. which have extra-territorial application.


Continue Reading Extra-territorial application of India’s securities law – Has SEBI cast its net too wide?

Into the Web - AML Risks of Virtual Assets - Part 1

Part I of this article explores the current Indian regulatory and legal framework governing the virtual asset industry and recommendations for AML/CFT compliance in respect of virtual asssets.

Indian legal framework

The virtual asset industry has had a somewhat difficult time in India, with the RBI banning any regulated entities from providing services to any individual or business, dealing in digital currencies, given the risks involved in such transactions. The term ‘services’ included maintaining accounts, registering, trading, settling, clearing, giving loans against virtual tokens, accepting them as collateral, opening accounts of exchanges, dealing with them and transferring or receipt of money in accounts relating to purchase/ sale of VCs or facilitating the same thereof.
Continue Reading Into the Web: AML Risks of Virtual Assets? – Part II

Rights Issue - Regulatory to and fro on renunciation

On April 27, 2020, the Central Government notified the Foreign Exchange Management (Non-debt Instruments) (Second Amendment) Rules, 2020 (“FEMA NDI Amendment”). The FEMA NDI Amendment seeks to modify the position on pricing of rights issue – in case of renunciation of rights in favour of a non-resident by a resident, pricing guidelines will apply. We have analysed the implications of the FEMA NDI Amendment on rights issue of securities in this blogpost.

Why Rights issue?

Rights issue has been a preferred mode of raising capital from the existing shareholders of a company as there are no prescriptive conditions on issue price. Companies have the flexibility to determine issue price in case of rights issue under company law as well as SEBI regulations (applicable to listed companies). This gives companies much-needed flexibility to structure a capital raise from existing investors, especially in times of need.
Continue Reading Rights Issue: Regulatory to and fro on renunciation?

Single Brand Retail Trading A tale to harmonise NDI Rules with the FDI Policy

In an attempt to liberalise retail trading in India, the Government of India (“GoI”) has introduced intermittent reforms in the past decade, with a view to make the sector investor friendly and to ensure that India remains an attractive investment destination from the Foreign Direct Investment (“FDI”) perspective. The measures introduced have enabled foreign players to set up brick and mortar stores and operate in the e-commerce space to facilitate the transformation of the retail landscape in India.
Continue Reading Single Brand Retail Trading: A tale to harmonise NDI Rules with the FDI Policy

Contract Manufacturing - Press Note 4

The question of whether contract manufacturing constitutes “manufacture” from a foreign investment perspective is an oft debated topic in the manufacturing fraternity and many businesses have struggled with this issue for years.

“Contract manufacturing” refers to manufacturing undertaken through a third party and has a range of benefits for the principal manufacturer, including economic efficiency, scale, operational efficiencies and flexibility. For instance, if a specialised set of equipment or skills is required to manufacture a certain product, the principal manufacturer can use the facilities already available with a third party to manufacture these products, instead of investing its capital in creating these facilities for itself. Contract manufacturing also enables a principal manufacturer to utilise a contract manufacturer’s existing supply chains, linkages and labour force. If a principal manufacture has a cyclical manufacturing business, using the facilities of a third party may be more beneficial than making capital investments that may lie idle for large parts of the year. In light of these benefits, contract manufacturing as a business model is one that is preferred by many entities in the manufacturing business.
Continue Reading The Contract Manufacturing Conundrum – Press Note 4 to the Rescue?

On June 7th, 2018, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had introduced two new forms (namely Single Master Form and Entity Master Form) vide a circular[1] (RBI Circular), with the aim of simplifying reporting under the Foreign Exchange and Management Act, 1999 (FEMA). Our earlier blog post contained details of the two forms and our in-depth analysis of the same. On June 27th, 2018, RBI released a User Manual for Entity Master – FIRMS[2] (User Manual) which provides detailed instructions and the process for filing the Entity Master Form.
Continue Reading India Simplifies Foreign Investment Reporting Process: Update

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

Foreign investors into India have often found that when they seek to enforce customary contractual rights in investment agreements, such as option rights, guarantees and indemnities, they have been hamstrung by the ability of the Indian counterparty to contend that such rights are in contravention of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) and the regulations issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

It is in this context that the recent Delhi High Court judgment in the case of Cruz City I Mauritius Holdings v. Unitech Limited, MANU/DE/0965/2017, is relevant, in that it categorically strikes down the defence that an arbitral award is not enforceable on the ground that certain provisions of the contract pursuant to which the award was issued were allegedly in contravention of the FEMA regulations.

Cruz City 1 Mauritius Holdings (Cruz City) filed a petition in the Delhi High Court for enforcement of an arbitral award rendered under the rules of the London Court of International Arbitration (Award). This required Unitech Limited (Unitech) and Burley Holding Limited (Burley), a wholly owned subsidiary of Unitech, to pay Cruz City the pre-determined purchase price of all of Cruz City’s equity shares in a joint venture (incorporated in Mauritius) pursuant to:

  1. A “put option” exercised by Cruz City against Burley.
  2. A keepwell agreement (which was in the nature of a guarantee) whereby Unitech was to make the necessary financial contribution in Burley to enable it to meet its obligations.


Continue Reading Alleged Violation of FEMA now a Dwindling Defence against Enforcement of Contractual Rights