Government credit enhancement for NBFC pools: A Guide to Rating agencies

Vinod Kothari Consultants P Ltd (finserv@vinodkothari.com)

 

The partial credit enhancement (PCE) Scheme of the Government[1], for purchase by public sector banks (PSBs) of NBFC/HFC pools, has been discussed in our earlier write-ups, which can be viewed here and here.

This document briefly puts the potential approach of the rating agencies for rating of the pools for the purpose of qualifying for the Scheme.

Brief nature of the transaction:

  • The transaction may be summarised as transfer of a pool to a PSB, wherein the NBFC retains a subordinated piece, such that the senior piece held by the PSB gets a AA rating. Thus, within the common pool of assets, there is a senior/junior structure, with the NBFC retaining the junior tranche.
  • The transaction is a structured finance transaction, by way of credit-enhanced, bilateral assignment. It is quite similar to a securitisation transaction, minus the presence of SPVs or issuance of any “securities”.
  • The NBFC will continue to be servicer, and will continue to charge servicing fees as agreed.
  • The objective to reach a AA rating of the pool/portion of the pool that is sold to the PSB.
  • Hence, the principles for sizing of credit enhancement, counterparty (servicer) risk, etc. should be the same as in case of securitisation.
  • The coupon rate for the senior tranche may be mutually negotiated. Given the fact that after 2 years, the GoI guarantee will be removed, the parties may agree for a stepped-up rate if the pool continues after 2 years. Obviously, the extent of subordinated share held by the NBFC will have to be increased substantially, to provide increased comfort to the PSB. Excess spread, that is, the excess of actual interest earned over the servicing fees and the coupon may be released to the seller.
  • The payout of the principal/interest to the two tranches (senior and junior), and utilisation of the excess spread, etc. may be worked out so as to meet the rating objective, provide for stepped-up level of enhancement, and yet maintain the economic viability of the transaction.
  • Bankruptcy remoteness is easier in the present case, as pool is sold from the NBFC to the PSB, by way of a non-recourse transfer. Of course, there should be no retention of buyback option, etc., or other factors that vitiate a true sale.
  • Technically, there is no need for a trustee. However, whether the parties need to keep a third party for ensuring surveillance over the transaction, in form of a monitoring agency, may be decided between the parties.

Brief characteristics of the Pool

  • For any meaningful statistical analysis, the pool should be a homogenous pool.
  • Surely, the pool is a static pool.
  • The pool has attained seasoning, as the loans must have been originated by 31st March, 2019.
  • In our view, pools having short maturities (say personal loans, short-term loans, etc.) will not be suitable for the transaction, since the guarantee and the guarantee fee are on annually declining basis.

Data requirement

The data required for the analysis will be same as data required for securitisation of a static pool.

Documentation

  • Between the NBFC and the PSB, there will be standard assignment documentation.
  • Between the Bank and the GoI:
    • Declaration that requirements of Chapter 11 of the GFR have been satisfied.
    • Guarantee documentation as per format given by GOI

[1] http://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=192618

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Government Credit enhancement scheme for NBFC Pools: A win-win for all

Vinod Kothari (vinod@vinodkothari.com)

The so-called partial credit enhancement (PCE) for purchase of NBFC/HFC pools by public sector banks (PSBs) may, if meaningfully implemented, be a win-win for all. The three primary players in the PCE scheme are NBFCs/HFCs (let us collectively called them Originators), the purchasing PSBs, and the Government of India (GoI). The Scheme has the potential to infuse liquidity into NBFCs while at the same time giving them advantage in terms of financing costs, allow PSBs to earn spreads while enjoying the benefit of sovereign guarantee, and allow the GoI to earn a spread of 25 bps virtually carrying no risks at all. This brief write-ups seeks to make this point.

The details of the Scheme with our elaborate questions and answers have been provided elsewhere.

Modus operandi

Broadly, the way we envisage the Scheme working is as follows:

  1. An Originator assimilates a pool of loans, and does tranching/credit enhancements to bring a senior tranche to a level of AA rating. Usually, tranching is associated with securitisation, but there is no reason why tranching cannot be done in case of bilateral transactions such as the one envisaged here. The most common form of tranching is subordination. Other structured finance devices such as turbo amortisation, sequential payment structure, provisions for redirecting the excess spread to pay off the principal on senior tranche, etc., may be deployed as required.
  2. Thus, say, on a pool of Rs 100 crores, the NBFC does so much subordination by way of a junior tranche as to bring the senior tranche to a AA level. The size of subordination may be worked, crudely, by X (usually 3 to 4) multiples of expected losses, or by a proper probability distribution model so as to bring the confidence level of the size of subordination being enough to absorb losses to acceptable AA probability of default. For instance, let us think of this level amounting to 8% (this percentage, needless to say, will depend on the expected losses of respective pools).
  3. Thus, the NBFC sells the pool of Rs 100 crores to PSB, retaining a subordinated 8% share in the same. Bankruptcy remoteness is achieved by true sale of the entire Rs 100 crore pool, with a subordinated share of 8% therein. In bilateral transactions, there is no need to use a trustee; to the extent of the Originator’s subordinated share, the PSB is deemed to be holding the assets in trust for the Originator. Simultaneously, the Originator also retains excess spread over the agreed Coupon Rate with the bank (as discussed below).
  4. Assuming that the fair value (computation of fair value will largely a no-brainer, as the PSB retains principal, and interest only to the extent of its agreed coupon, with the excess spread flowing back to the Originator) comes to the same as the participation of the PSB – 92% or Rs 92 crores, the PSB pays the same to the Originator.
  5. PSB now goes to the GoI and gets the purchase guaranteed by the latter. So, the GoI has guaranteed a purchase of Rs 92 crores, taking a first loss risk of 10% therein, that is, upto Rs 9.20 crores. Notably, for the pool as a whole, the GoI’s share of Rs 9.20 crores becomes a second loss position. However, considering that the GoI is guaranteeing the PSB, the support may technically be called first loss support, with the Originator-level support of Rs 10 crores being separate and independent.
  6. However, it is clear that the sharing of risks between the 3 – the Originator, the GoI and the Bank will be as follows:
  • Losses upto first Rs 8 crores will be taken out of the NBFC’s first loss piece, thereby, implying no risk transfer at all.
  • Losses in excess of Rs 8 crores, but upto a total of Rs 17.20 crores (the GoI guarantee is limited to Rs 9.20 crores), will be taken by GoI.
  • It is only when the loss exceeds Rs 17.20 crores that there is a question of the PSB being hit by losses.
  1. Thus, during the period of the guarantee, the PSB is protected to the extent of 17.2%. Note that first loss piece at the Originator level has been sized up to attain a AA rating. That will mean, higher the risk of the pool, the first loss piece at Originator level will go up to protect the bank.
  2. The PSB, therefore, has dual protection – to the extent of AA rating, from the Originator (or a third party with/without the Originator, as we discuss below), and for the next 10%, from the sovereign.
  3. Now comes the critical question – what will be the coupon rates that the PSB may expect on the pool.
    1. The pool effectively has a sovereign protection. While the protection may seem partial, but it is a tranched protection, and for a AA-rated pool, a 10% thickness of first loss protection is actually far higher than required for the highest degree of safety. What makes the protection even stronger is that the size of the guarantee is fixed at the start of the transaction or start of the financial year, even though the pool continues to amortise, thereby increasing the effective thickness.
    2. Assume risk free rate is R, and the spreads for AAA rated ABS are R +100 bps. Assume that the spreads for AA-rated ABS is R+150 bps.
    3. Given the sovereign protection, the PSB should be able to price the transaction certainly at less than R +100 bps, because sovereign guarantee is certainly safer than AAA. In fact, it should effectively move close to R, but given the other pool risks (prepayment risks, irregular cashflows), one may expect pricing above R.
    4. For the NBFC, the actual cost is the coupon expected by the PSB, plus 25bps paid for the guarantee.
    5. So as long as the coupon rate of the pool for the NBFC is lower than R+75 bps, it is an advantage over a AAA ABS placement. It is to be noted that the NBFC is actually exposing regulatory and economic capital only for the upto-AA risk that it holds.

Win-win for all

If the structure works as above, it is a win-win for all:

  • For the GoI, it is a neat income of 25 bps while virtually taking no real risks. There are 2 strong reasons for this – first, there is a first loss protection by the Originator, to qualify the pool for a AA rating. Secondly, the guarantee is limited only for 2 years. For any pool, first of all, the probability of losses breaching a AA-barrier itself will be close to 1% (meaning, 99% of the cases, the credit support at AA level will be sufficient). This becomes even more emphatic, if we consider the fact that the guarantee will be removed after 2 years. The losses may pile up above the Originator’s protection, but very unlikely that this will happen over 2 years.
  • For the PSB, while getting the benefit of a sovereign guarantee, and therefore, effectively, investing in something which is better than AAA, the PSB may target a spread close to AAA.
  • For the NBFC, it is getting a net advantage in terms of funding cost. Even if the pricing moves close to AAA ABS spreads, the NBFC stands to gain as the regulatory capital eaten up is only what is required for a AA-support.

The overall benefits for the system are immense. There is release of liquidity from the banking system to the economy. Depending on the type of pools Originators will be selling, there may be asset creation in form of home loans, or working capital loans (LAP loans may effectively be that), or loans for transport vehicles. If the GoI objective of buying pools upto Rs 100000 crores gets materialised, as much funding moves from banks to NBFCs, which is obviously already deployed in form of assets. The GoI makes an income of Rs 250 crores for effectively no risk.

In fact, if the GoI gains experience with the Scheme, there may be very good reason for lowering the rating threshold to A level, particularly in case of home loans.

Capital treatment, rating methodologies and other preparations

To make the Scheme really achieve its objectives, there are several preparations that may have to come soon enough:

  • Rating agencies have to develop methodologies for rating this bilateral pool transfer. Effectively, this is nothing but a structured pool transfer, akin to securitisation. Hence, rating methodologies used for securitisation may either be applied as they are, or tweaked to apply to the transfers under the Scheme.
  • Very importantly, the RBI may have to clarify that the AA risk retention by Originators under the Scheme will lead to regulatory capital requirement only upto the risk retained by the NBFC. This should be quite easy for the RBI to do – because there are guidelines for securitisation already, and the Scheme has all features of securitisation, minus the fact that there is no SPV or issuance of “securities” as such.

Conclusion

Whoever takes the first transaction to market will have to obviously do a lot of educating – PSBs, rating agencies, law firms, SIDBI, and of course, DFS. However, the exercise is worth it, and it may not take 6 months as envisaged for the GoI to reach the target of Rs 1 lakh crores.


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GOI’s attempt to ease out liquidity stress of NBFCs and HFCs: Ministry of Finance launches Scheme for Partial Credit Guarantee to PSBs for acquisition of financial assets

Abhirup Ghosh  (abhirup@vinodkothari.com)

The Finance Minister, during the Union Budget 2019-20, promised to introduce a partial credit guarantee scheme so as to extend relief to the NBFC during the on-going liquidity crisis. The proposal laid down in the budget was a very broad statement and were subject to several speculations. At last on 13th August, 2019[1], the Ministry of Finance came out with a press release to announce the notification in this regard dated 10th August, 2019, laying down specifics of the scheme.

The scheme will be known by “Partial Credit Guarantee offered by Government of India (GoI) to Public Sector Banks (PSBs) for purchasing high-rated pooled assets from financially sound Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)/Housing Finance Companies (HFCs)”, however, for the purpose of this write-up we will use the word “Scheme” for reference.

The Scheme is intended to address temporary asset liability mismatch of solvent HFCs/ NBFCs, owing to the ongoing liquidity crisis in the non-banking financial sector, without having to resort to distress sale of their assets.

In this regard, we intend to discuss the various requirements under the Scheme and analyse its probable impact on the financial sector.

Applicability:

The Scheme has been notified with effect from 10th August, 2019 and will remain open for 6 months from or until the period by which the maximum commitment by the Government in the Scheme is fulfilled, whichever is earlier.

Under the Scheme, the Government has promised to extend first loss guarantee for purchase of assets by PSBs aggregating to ₹ 1 lakh crore. The Government will provide first loss guarantee of 10% of the assets purchased by the purchasing bank.

The Scheme is applicable for assignment of assets in the course of direct assignment to PSBs only. It is not applicable on securitisation transactions.

Also, as we know that in case of direct assignment transactions, the originators are required to retain a certain portion of the asset for the purpose of minimum retention requirement; this Scheme however, applies only to the purchasing bank’s share of assets and not on the originators retained portion. Therefore, if due to default, the originator incurs any losses, the same will not be compensated by virtue of this scheme.

Eligible sellers:

The Scheme lays down criteria to check the eligibility of sellers to avail benefits under this Scheme, and the same are follows:

  1. NBFCs registered with the RBI, except Micro Financial Institutions or Core Investment Companies.
  2. HFCs registered with the NHB.
  3. The NBFC/ HFC must have been able to maintain the minimum regulatory capital as on 31st March, 2019, that is –
    • For NBFCs – 15%
    • For HFCs – 12%
  4. The net NPA of the NBFC/HFC must not have exceeded 6% as on 31st March, 2019
  5. The NBFC/ HFC must have reported net profit in at least one out of the last two preceding financial years, that is, FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19.
  6. The NBFC/ HFC must not have been reported as a Special Mention Account (SMA) by any bank during year prior to 1st August, 2018.

Some observations on the eligibility criteria are:

  1. Asset size of NBFCs for availing benefits under the Scheme: The Scheme does not provide for any asset size requirement for an NBFC to be qualified for this Scheme, however, one of the requirement is that the financial institution must have maintained the minimum regulatory capital requirement as on 31st March, 2019. Here it is important to note that requirement to maintain regulatory capital, that is capital risk adequacy ratio (CRAR), applies only to systemically important NBFCs.

Only those NBFCs whose asset size exceeds Rs. 500 crores singly or jointly with assets of other NBFCs in the group are treated as systemically important NBFCs. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the benefits under this Scheme can be availed only by those NBFCs which – a) are required to maintained CRAR, and b) have maintained the required amount of capital as on 31st March, 2019, subject to the fulfilment of other conditions.

  1. Financial health of originator after 1st August, 2018 – The eligibility criteria for sellers state that the financial institution must not have been reported as SMA by any bank any time during 1 year prior to 1st August, 2018, the apparent question that arises here is what happens if the originator moves into SMA status after the said date. If we go by the letters of the Scheme, if a financial institution satisfies the condition before 1st August, 2018 but becomes SMA thereafter, it will still be eligible as per the Scheme. This makes the situation a little awkward as the whole intention of the Scheme was to facilitate financially sound financial institutions. This seems to be an error on the part of the Government, and it surely must not have meant to situations such as the one discussed above. We can hopefully expect an amendment in this regard from the Government.

Eligible assets

Pool of assets satisfying the following conditions can be assigned under the Scheme:

  1. The asset must have been originated on or before 31st March, 2019.
  2. The asset must be classified as standard in the books of the NBFC/ HFC as on the date of the sale.
  3. The pool of assets should have a minimum rating of “AA” or equivalent at fair value without the credit guarantee from the Government.
  4. Each account under the pooled assets should have been fully disbursed and security charge should have been created in favour of the originating NBFCs/ HFCs.
  5. NBFCs/HFCs can sell up to a maximum of 20% of their standard assets as on 31.3.2019 subject to a cap of Rs. 5,000 crore at fair value. Any additional amount above the cap of Rs. 5,000 crore will be considered on pro ratabasis, subject to availability of headroom.
  6. The individual asset size in the pool must not exceed Rs. 5 crore.
  7. The following types of loans are not eligible for assignment for the purposes of this Scheme:
    1. Revolving credit facilities;
    2. Assets purchased from other entities; and
  • Assets with bullet repayment of both principal and interest

Our observations on the eligibility criteria are as follows:

  1. Rating of the pool: The Scheme states that the pools assigned should be highly rated, that is, should have ratings of AA or equivalent prior to the guarantee. Technically, pool of assets are not rated, it is the security which is rated based on the risks and rewards of the underlying pools. Therefore, it is to be seen how things will unfold. Also, desired rating in the present case is quite high; if an originator is able to secure such a high rating, it might not require the assistance under this Scheme in the first place. And, the fact that the originators will have to pay guarantee commission of 25 bps. Therefore, only where the originators are able to secure a significantly lower cost from the banks for a higher rating, that would also cover the commission paid, will this Scheme be viable; let alone be the challenges of achieving an AA rating of the pool.
  2. Cut-off date of loan origination to be 31st March, 2019: As per the RBI Guidelines on Securitisation and Direct Assignment, the originators have to comply with minimum holding requirements. The said requirement suggests that an asset can be sold off only if it has remained in the books of the originator for at least 6 months. This Scheme has come into force with effect from 10th August, 2019 and will remain open for 6 months from the commencement.

Considering that already 5 months since the cut-off date has already passed, even if we were to assume that the loan is originated on the cut-off date itself, it would mean that closer to the end of the tenure of the Scheme, the loan will be 11 months seasoning. Such high seasoning requirements might not be motivational enough for the originators to avail this Scheme.

  1. Maximum cap on sell down of receivables: The Scheme has put a maximum cap on the amount of assets that can be assigned and that is an amount equal to 20% of the outstanding standard assets as on 31st March, 2019, however, the same is capped to Rs. 5000 crores.

It is pertinent to note that the Scheme also allows additional sell down of loans by the originators, beyond the maximum cap, however, the same shall depend on the available headroom and based on decisions of the Government.

Invocation of guarantee and guarantee commission

Guarantee commission

As already stated earlier, in order to avail benefits under this Scheme, the originator will have to incur a fee of 25 basis points on the amount guaranteed by the Government. However, the payment of the same shall have to be routed through the purchasing bank.

Invocation of guarantee

The guarantee can be invoked any time during the first 24 months from the date of assignment, if the interest/ principal has remained overdue for a period of more than 90 days.

Consequent upon a default, the purchasing bank can invoke the guarantee and recover its entire exposure from the Government. It can continue to recover its losses from the Government, until the upper cap of 10% of the total portfolio is reached. However, the purchasing bank will not be able to recover the losses if – (a) the pooled assets are bought back by the concerned NBFCs/HFCs or (b) sold by the purchasing bank to other entities.

The claims of the purchasing bank will be settled with 5 working days from the date of claim by the Government.

However, if the purchasing bank, by any means, recovers the amount subsequent to the invocation of the guarantee, it will have to refund the amount recovered or the amount received against the guarantee to the Government within 5 working days from the date of recovery. Where the amount recovered is more than amount of received as guarantee, the excess collection will be retained by the purchasing bank.

Other features of the Scheme

  1. Reporting requirement – The Scheme provides for a real-time reporting mechanism for the purchasing banks to understand the remaining headroom for purchase of such pooled assets. The Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance would obtain the requisite information in a prescribed format from the PSBs and send a copy to the budget division of DEA, however, the manner and format of reporting has not been notified yet.
  2. Option to buy-back the loans – The Scheme allows the originator to retain an option to buy back its assets after a specified period of 12 months as a repurchase transaction, on a right of first refusal basis. This however, is contradictory to the RBI Guidelines on Direct Assignment, as the same does not allow any option to repurchase the pool in a DA transaction.
  3. To-do for the NBFCs/ HFCs – In order to avail the benefits under the Scheme, the following actionables have to be undertaken:
    1. The Asset Liability structure should restructured within three months to have positive ALM in each bucket for the first three months and on cumulative basis for the remaining period;
    2. At no time during the period for exercise of the option to buy back the assets, should the CRAR go below the regulatory minimum. The promoters shall have to ensure this by infusing equity, where required.

[1] http://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=192618

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Government Guarantee for NBFC Pool Purchases by Banks: Analysis, questions, and gaps

[Updated as on 16th August, 2019]

By Financial Services Division, finserv@vinodkothari.com

The Finance Minister, during the Union Budget 2019-20, proposed to introduce a partial credit guarantee scheme so as to extend relief to NBFCs during the on-going liquidity crisis. The proposal laid down in the budget was a very broad statement. On 13th August, 2019[1], the Ministry of Finance came out with a Press Release to announce the notification in this regard, dated 10th August, 2019, laying down specifics of the scheme.

The scheme,  known as “Partial Credit Guarantee offered by Government of India (GoI) to Public Sector Banks (PSBs) for purchasing high-rated pooled assets from financially sound Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)/Housing Finance Companies (HFCs)”, is referred to, for the purpose of this write, as  “the Scheme”.

The Scheme is intended to address the temporary liquidity crunch faced by solvent HFCs/ NBFCs, so that such entities may refinance their assets without having to resort to either distress sale or defaults on account of asset-liability mismatches.

In this write-up we have tried to answer some obvious questions that could arise along with potential answers.

Scope of applicability

  1. When does this scheme come into force?

The Scheme was originally introduced on 10th August, 2019 and has been put to effect immediately.

  1. How long will this Scheme continue to be in force?

The Scheme will remain open for 6 months from the date of issuance of this Scheme or when the maximum commitment of the Government, under this Scheme, is achieved, whichever is earlier. This signifies that the parties must complete the assignment and execution of necessary documents for the guarantee (see below) within the stipulated time period.

  1. Who is the beneficiary of the guarantee under the Scheme – the bank or the NBFC?

The bank is the beneficiary. The NBFC is not a party to the transaction of guarantee.

  1. Does a bank buying pools from NBFCs/HFCs (Financial Entities) automatically get covered under the Scheme?

No. Since a bank/ Financial Entities may not want to avail of the benefit of the Scheme, the Parties will have to opt for the benefit of the guarantee. The bank will have to enter into specific documentation, following the procedure discussed below.

  1. What does the Bank have to do to get covered by the benefit of guarantee under the Scheme?

The procedural aspects of the guarantee under the Scheme are discussed below.

  1. Is the guarantee for specifically to be sought for each of the pools acquired by the Bank or is it going to be an umbrella coverage for all the eligible pools acquired by the Bank?

The operational mechanism requires that there will be separate documentation every time the bank wants to acquire a pool from a financial entity in accordance with the Scheme. There is no process of master documentation, with simply a confirmation being attached for multiple transactions. .

  1. How does this Scheme rank/compare with other schemes whereby banks may participate into originations done by NBFCs/HFCs?

The RBI has lately taken various initiatives to promote participation by banks in the originations done by NBFCs/ HFCs. The following are the available ways of participation:

  • Direct assignments
  • Co-lending
  • Loans for on-lending
  • Securitisation

Direct assignments and securitisation have been there in the market since 2012, however, recently, once the liquidity crisis came into surface, the RBI relaxed the minimum holding period norms in order to promote the products.

Co-lending is also an alternative product for the co-origination by banks and NBFCs. In 2018, the RBI also released the guidelines on co-origination of priority sector loans by banks and NBFCs. The guidelines provide for the modalities of such originations and also provide on risk sharing, pricing etc. The difficulty in case of co-origination is that the turnaround time and the flexibility that the NBFCs claimed, which was one of their primary reasons for a competitive edge, get compromised.

The third product, that is, loans for on-lending for a specific purpose, has been in existence for long. However, recent efforts of RBI to allow loans for on-lending for PSL assets have increased the scope of this product.

This Scheme, though, is meant to boost specific direct assignment transactions, but is unique in its own way. This Scheme deviates from various principles from the DA guidelines and is, accordingly, intended to be an independent scheme by itself.

The basic use of the Scheme is to be able to conduct assignment of pools, without having to get into the complexity of involving special purpose vehicles, setting enhancement levels only so as to reach AA ratings. The effective cost of the Financial Entities doing assignments under the Scheme will be (a) the return expected by the Bank for a GoI-guaranteed pool; plus (b) 25 bps. If this effectively works cheaper than opting for AA rated pool on standalone basis, the Scheme may be economically effective.

A major immediate benefit of the Scheme may be to nudge PSBs to start buying NBFC pools. While the guarantee is effective only for 2 years that does not mean, after 2 years, the PSBs will either sell or sell-back the pools. Therefore, in ultimate analysis, PSBs will get comfortable with buying NBFC pools on direct assignment basis.

The Scheme may go to encourage loan pool transfers outside the existing DA discipline.

  1. Is the Scheme an alternative to direct assignment covered by Part B of the 2012 Guidelines, or is it by itself an independent option?

While intuitively one would have thought that the Scheme is a just a method of risk mitigation/facilitation of the DA transactions which commonly happen between banks and Financial Entities, there are several reasons based on which it appears that this Scheme should be construed as an independent option to banks/ Financial Entities:

  1. This Scheme is limited to acquisition of pools by PSBs only whereas direct assignment is not limited to either PSBs or banks.
  2. This Scheme envisages that the pool sold to the banks has attained a AA rating at the least. As discussed below, that is not possible without a pool-level credit enhancement. In case of direct assignments, credit enhancement is not permissible.
  3. Investments in direct assignment are to be done by the acquirer based on the acquirer’s own credit evaluation. In case of the Scheme, the acquisition is obviously based on the guarantee given by the GoI.
  4. There is no question of an agreement or option to acquire the pool back after its transfer by the originator. The Scheme talks about the right of first refusal by the NBFC if the purchasing bank decides to further sell down the assets at any point of time.

Therefore, it should be construed that the Scheme is completed carved out from the DA Guidelines, and is an alternative to DA or securitisation. .

  1. Is this Scheme applicable to Securitisation transactions as well?

Assignment of pool of assets can be happen in case of both direct assignment as well as securitisation transaction. However, the intention of the present scheme is to provide credit enhancements to direct assignment transactions only. The Scheme does not intend to apply to securitisation transactions; however, the credit enhancement methodology to be deployed to make the Scheme work may involve several structured finance principles akin to securitisation.

Risk transfer 

  1. The essence of a guarantee is risk transfer. So how exactly is the process of risk transfer happening in the present case?

The risk is originated at the time of loan origination by the Financial Entities. The risk is integrated into a pool. Since the transaction is presumably a direct assignment (see discussion below), the risk transfer from the NBFC to the bank may happen either based on a pari passu risk sharing, or based on a tranched risk transfer.

The question of a pari passu risk transfer will arise only if the pool itself, without any credit enhancement, can be rated AA. See below for discussion as to why this is nearly impossible, particularly in case of retail pools. Therefore, it appears that the pool will have to be credit-enhanced by using one or more devices of credit enhancement, say, over-collateralisation or subordination.

Based on whether the share of the bank is pari passu or senior, there may be a risk transfer to the bank. Once there is a risk transfer on account of a default to the bank, the bank now transfers the risk on a first-loss basis to the GoI within the pool-based limit of 10%.

  1. What is the maximum amount of exposure, the Government of India is willing to take through this Scheme?

Under this Scheme, the Government has agreed to provide 10% first loss guarantee to assets, amounting to total of ₹ 1 lakh crore. Here it is important to note that the limit of ₹ 1 lakh crore refers to the total amount of assets against which guarantee will be extended and not the total amount of guarantee. The maximum exposure that the Government will take under the Scheme is ₹ 10,000 crores (10% of ₹ 1 lakh crore). Both the amounts, Rs 1 lakh crore, as also Rs 10,000 crores, are the aggregate for the banking system as a whole.

  1. What does 10% first loss guarantee signify?

Let us first understand the meaning for first loss guarantee. As the name suggests, the guarantor promises to replenish the first losses of the financier upto a certain level. Therefore, a 10% first loss guarantee would signify that any loss upto 10% of the total exposure of the acquirer in a particular pool will be compensated by the guarantor.

Say for example, if the size of pool originated by NBFC N is Rs. 1000 crores, consisting of 1000 borrowers of Rs. 1 crore each. Assume further that each of the loans in the pool are such that if a default occurs, the crystallised loss is 100% (that is, there is nil recovery estimated at the time of recognising the loan as a bad loan). We are also assuming, though impractically, that the loans in the pool are at least AA rated; therefore, the pool gets a AA rating.

Let us say this pool is sold by N to bank B. N retains a 10%  pari passu share of the pool – thereby, the amount of the assets transferred to the B is Rs 900 crores. Assume that the fair value is also Rs 900 crores – that means, B buys the pool at par by paying Rs 900 crores. Assume B gets the acquisition guaranteed under the Scheme.

After its acquisition by B, assume a loan goes bad (see discussion below), and therefore, N allocates a loss of Rs 90 lacs (assuming there is pari passu sharing of losses) to B. B will claim this money by way of a guarantee compensation from GoI. B will keep getting such indemnification from GoI until the total amount paid by GoI reaches Rs. 90 crores (10% of the guaranteed amount). This, based on our hypothetical assumption of each loan having the same size, will mean loss of 100 loans out of the 1000 loans in the pool.

On the other hand, if it was to be understood that the pool will have to be first credit enhanced at the level of N, to attain a credit rating of AA, then N itself may have to provide a first-loss support at the transaction level. This may be, say, by providing a subordination, such that the share of N in the transaction is subordinated, and not pari passu. In that case, the question of any risk transfer to B, and therefore, an indemnification by GoI, will arise only if the amount of losses on account of default exceed the level of first loss support provided by N.

  1. When is a loan taken to have defaulted for the purpose of the Scheme?

Para D of the Scheme suggests that the loan will be taken as defaulted when the interest and/or principal is overdue by more than 90 days. It further goes to refer to crystallisation of liability on the underlying borrower. The meaning of “crystallisation of liability” is not at all clear, and is, regrettably, inappropriate. The word “crystallisation” is commonly used in context of floating charges, where the charge gets crystallised on account of default. It is also sometimes used in context of guarantees where the liability is said to crystallise on the guarantor following the debtor’s default. The word “underlying borrower” should obviously mean the borrower included in the pool of loans, who always had a crystallised liability. In context, however, this may mean declaration of an event of default, recall of the loan, and thereby, requiring the borrower to repay the entire defaulted loan.

  1. On occurrence of “default” as above, will be the Bank be able to claim the entire outstanding from the underlying borrower, or the amount of defaulted interest/principal?

The general principle in such cases is that the liability of the guarantor should crystallise on declaration of an event of default on the underlying loan. Hence, the whole of the outstandings from the borrower should be claimed form the guarantor, so as to indemnify the bank fully. As regards subsequent recoveries from the borrower, see later.

  1. Does the recognition of loss by the bank on a defaulted loan have anything to do with the excess spreads/interest on the other performing loans? That is to say, is the loss with respect to a defaulted loan to be computed on pool basis, or loan-by-loan basis?

A reading of para D would suggest that the claiming of compensation is on default of a loan. Hence, the compensation to be claimed by the bank is not to be computed on pool basis.

  1. Can the guarantee be applicable to a revolving purchase of loans by the bank from the NBFC, that is, purchase of loans on a continuing basis?

No. The intent seems clearly to apply the Scheme only to a static pool.

  1. If a bank buys several pools from the same NBFC, is the extent of first loss cover, that is, 10%, fungible across all pools?

No. The very meaning of a first loss cover is that the protection is limited to a single, static pool.

  1. From the viewpoint of maximising the benefit of the guarantee, should a bank try and achieve maximum diversification in a pool, or keep the pool concentric?

The time-tested rule of tranching of risks in static pools is that in case of concentric, that is, correlated pools, the limit of first loss will be reached very soon. Hence, the benefit of the guarantee is maximised when the pool is diversified. This will mean both granularity of the pool, as also diversification by all the underlying risk variables – geography, industry or occupation type, type of property, etc.

  1. Can or should the Scheme be deployed for buying a single loan, or a few corporate loans?

First, the reference to pools obviously means diversified pools. As regards pools consisting of a few corporate loans, as mentioned above, the first loss cover will get exhausted very soon. The principle of tranching is that as correlation/concentricity in a pool increases, the risk shifts from lower tranches to senior tranches. Hence, one must not target using the Scheme for concentric or correlated pools.

  1. On what amount should the first loss guarantee be calculated – on the total pool size or the total amount of assets assigned?

While, as we discussed earlier, there is no clear applicability of the DA Guidelines in the present case, there needs to be a minimum skin in the game for the selling Financial Entity. Whether that skin in the game is by way of a pari passu vertical tranche, or a subordinated horizontal tranche, is a question of the rating required for attaining the benefit of the guarantee. Therefore, if we are considering a pool of say ₹ 1000 crores, the originator should retain at least ₹ 100 crores (applying a 10% rule – which, of course, will depend on the rating considerations) of the total assets in the pool and only to the extent the ₹ 900 crores can be assigned to the purchasing bank.

The question here is whether the first loss guarantee will be calculated on the entire ₹ 1000 crores or ₹ 900 crores. The intention is guarantee the purchasing banks’ share of cash flows and not that retained by the originator. Therefore, the first loss guarantee will be calculated on ₹ 900 crores in the present case.

Scope of the GoI Guarantee

  1. Does the guarantee cover both principal and interest on the underlying loan?

The guarantee is supposed to indemnify the losses of the beneficiary, in this case, the bank. Hence, the guarantee should presumably cover both interest and principal.

  1. Does the guarantee cove additional interest, penalties, etc.?

Going by Rule 277 (vi) of the GFR, the benefit of the guarantee will be limited to normal interest only. All other charges – additional interest, penal interest, etc., will not be covered by the guarantee.

  1. How do the General Financial Rules of the Government of India affect/limit the scope of the guarantee?

Para 281 of the GFR provides for annual review of the guarantees extended by the Government. The concerned department, DFS in the present case, will conduct review of the guarantees extended and forward the report to the Budget Division. However, if the Government can take any actions based on the outcome of the review is unclear.

Bankruptcy remoteness 

  1. Does the transaction of assignment of pool from the Financial Entity to the bank have to adhere to any true sale/bankruptcy remoteness conditions?

The transaction must be a proper assignment, and should achieve bankruptcy remoteness in relation to the Financial Entity. Therefore, all regular true sale conditions should be satisfied.

  1. Can a Financial Entity sell the pool to the bank with the understanding that after 2 years, that is, at the end of the guarantee period, the pool will be sold back to the NBFCs?

Any sale with either an obligation to buyback, or an option to buy back, generally conflicts with the true sale requirement. Therefore, the sale should be a sale without recourse. However, retention of a right of first refusal, or right of pre-emption, is not equivalent to option to buy back. For instance, if, after 2 years, the bank is desirous of selling the pool at its fair value, the NBFC may have the first right of buying the same. This is regarded as consistent with true sale conditions.

  1. If off-balance sheet treatment from IFRS/Ind-AS viewpoint at all relevant for the purpose of this transaction?

No. Off balance sheet treatment is not relevant for bankruptcy remoteness.

Buyers and sellers 

  1. Who are eligible buyers under this Scheme?

As is evident from the title of the Scheme, only Public Sector Banks are eligible buyers of assets under this Scheme. Therefore, even if a Private Sector Bank acquires eligible assets from eligible sellers, guarantee under this Scheme will still not be available.

This may be keeping in view two points – first, the intent of the Scheme, that is, to nudge PSBs to buy pools from Financial Entities. It is a well-known fact that private sector banks are, as it is, actively engaged in buying pools. Secondly, in terms of GFR of the GoI, the benefit of Government guarantee cannot go to the private sector. [Rule 277 (vii)] Hence, the Scheme is restricted to PSBs only.

  1. Who are eligible sellers under this Scheme?

The intention of the Scheme is to provide relief from the stress caused due to the ongoing liquidity crisis, to sound HFCs/ NBFCs who are otherwise financially stable. The Scheme has very clearly laid screening parameters to decide the eligibility of the selle₹ The qualifying criteria laid down therein are:

  1. NBFCs registered with the RBI, except Micro Financial Institutions or Core Investment Companies.
  2. HFCs registered with the NHB.
  3. The NBFC/ HFC must have been able to maintain the minimum regulatory capital as on 31st March, 2019, that is –
    1. For NBFCs – 15%
    2. For HFCs – 12%
  4. The net NPA of the NBFC/HFC must not have exceeded 6% as on 31st March, 2019
  5. The NBFC/ HFC must have reported net profit in at least one out of the last two preceding financial years, that is, FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19.
  6. The NBFC/ HFC must not have been reported as a Special Mention Account (SMA) by any bank during year prior to 1st August, 2018.
  1. Can NBFCs of any asset size avail this benefit?

Apparently, the Scheme does not provide for any asset size requirement for an NBFC to be qualified for this Scheme, however, one of the requirement is that the financial institution must have maintained the minimum regulatory capital requirement as on 31st March, 2019. Here it is important to note that requirement to maintain regulatory capital, that is capital risk adequacy ratio (CRAR), applies only to systemically important NBFCs.

Only those NBFCs whose asset size exceeds ₹ 500 crores singly or jointly with assets of other NBFCs in the group are treated as systemically important NBFCs. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the benefits under this Scheme can be availed only by those NBFCs which – a) are required to maintained CRAR, and b) have maintained the required amount of capital as on 31st March, 2019, subject to the fulfilment of other conditions.

  1. The eligibility criteria for sellers state that the financial institution must not have been reported as SMA by any bank any time during 1 year prior to 1st August, 2018 – what does this signify?

As per the prudential norms for banks, an account has to be declared as SMA, if it shows signs of distress without slipping into the category of an NPA. The requirement states that the originator must not have been reported as an SMA any time during 1 year prior to 1st August, 2018, and nothing has been mentioned regarding the period thereafter.

Therefore, if a financial institution satisfies the condition before 1st August, 2018 but becomes SMA thereafter, it will still be eligible as per the Scheme. This makes the situation a little awkward as the whole intention of the Scheme was to facilitate financially sound financial institutions. The word 2018 seems to have come by error – it should have been 2019.

Eligible assets

  1. What are the eligible assets for the Scheme?

The Scheme has explicitly laid down qualifying criteria for eligible assets and they are:

  1. The asset must have been originated on or before 31st March, 2019.
  2. The asset must be classified as standard in the books of the NBFC/ HFC as on the date of the sale.
  3. The pool of assets should have a minimum rating of “AA” or equivalent at fair value without the credit guarantee from the Government.
  4. Each account under the pooled assets should have been fully disbursed and security charge should have been created in favour of the originating NBFCs/ HFCs.
  5. The individual asset size in the pool must not exceed ₹ 5 crore.
  6. The following types of loans are not eligible for assignment for the purposes of this Scheme:
    1. Revolving credit facilities;
    2. Assets purchased from other entities; and
    3. Assets with bullet repayment of both principal and interest

Pools consisting of assets satisfying the above criteria qualify for the benefit of the guarantee. Hence, the pool may consist of retail loans, wholesale loans, corporate loans, loans against property, or any other loans, as long as the qualifying conditions above are satisfied.

  1. Should the Scheme be deployed for assets for longer maturity or shorter maturity?

Utilising the Scheme for pools of lower weighted average maturity will result into very high costs – as the cost of the guarantee is computed on the original purchase price.

Using the Scheme for pools of longer maturity – for example, LAP loans or corporate loans, may be lucrative because the amortisation of the pool is slower. However, it is notable that the benefit of the guarantee is available only for 2 years. After 2 years, the bank will not have the protection of the Government’s guarantee.

  1. If there are corporate loans in the pool, where there is payment of interest on regular basis, but the principal is paid by way of a bullet repayment, will such loans qualify for the benefit of the Scheme?

The reference to bullet repaying loans in the Scheme seems similar to those in DA guidelines. In our view, if there is evidence/track record of servicing, in form of interest, such that the principal comes by way of a bullet repayment (commonly called IO loans), the loan should still qualify for the Scheme. However, negatively amortising loans should not qualify.

  1. Is there any implication of keeping the cut-off date for originations of loans to be 31st March, 2019?

As per the RBI Guidelines on Securitisation and Direct Assignment, the originators have to comply with minimum holding requirements. The said requirement suggests that an asset can be sold off only if it has remained in the books of the originator for at least 6 months. This Scheme has come into force with effect from 10th August, 2019 and will remain open for 6 months from the commencement.

Already 5 months have passed since the cut-off date, and even if we were to assume that the loan is originated on the cut-off date itself, it would mean that closer to the end of the tenure of the Scheme, the loan will be 11 months seasoning. Such high seasoning requirements might not be motivational enough for the originators to avail this Scheme.

  1. Is there is any maximum limit on the amount of loans that can be assigned under this Scheme?

Yes, the Scheme has put a maximum cap on the amount of assets that can be assigned and that is an amount equal to 20% of the outstanding standard assets as on 31st March, 2019, however, the same is capped to ₹ 5000 crores.

  1. Is there a scope for assigning assets beyond the maximum limits prescribed in the Scheme?

Yes, the Scheme states that any additional amount above the cap of ₹ 5,000 crore will be considered on pro rata basis, subject to availability of headroom. However, from the language, it seems that there is a scope for sell down beyond the prescribed limit, only if the eligible maximum permissible limit gets capped to ₹ 5,000 crores and not if the maximum permissible limit is less than ₹ 5000 crores.

The following numerical examples will help us to understand this better:

Total outstanding standard assets as on 31st March, 2019 ₹ 20,000 crores ₹ 25,000 crores ₹ 30,000 crores
Maximum permissible limit @ 20% ₹ 4,000 crores ₹ 5,000 crores ₹ 6,000 crores
Maximum cap for assignment under this Scheme ₹ 5,000 crores ₹ 5,000 crores ₹ 5,000 crores
Amount that can be assigned under this Scheme ₹ 4,000 crores ₹ 5,000 crores ₹ 5,000 crores
Scope for further sell down? No No Yes, upto a maximum of ₹ 1,000 crores

 

  1. When will it be decided whether the Financial Entity can sell down receivables beyond the maximum cap?

Nothing has been mentioned regarding when and how will it be decided whether a financial institution can sell down receivables beyond the maximum cap, under this Scheme. However, logically, the decision should be taken by the Government of India of whether to allow further sell down and closer towards the end of the Scheme. However, we will have to wait and see how this unfolds practically.

  1. What are the permissible terms of transfer under this Scheme?

The Scheme allows the assignment agreement to contain the following:

  1. Servicing rights – It allows the originator to retain the servicing function, including administrative function, in the transaction.
  2. Buy back right – It allows the originator to retain an option to buy back its assets after a specified period of 12 months as a repurchase transaction, on a right of first refusal basis. Actually, this is not a right to buy back, it is a right of first refusal which the NBFC/ HFC may exercise if the purchasing bank further sells down the assets. See elsewhere for detailed discussion

Rating of the Pool

  1. The Scheme requires that the pool must have a rating of AA before its transfer to the bank. Does that mean there be a formal rating agency opinion on the rating of the pool?

Yes. It will be logical to assume that SIDBI or DFS will expect a formal rating agency opinion before agreeing to extend the guarantee.

  1. The Scheme requires the pool of assets to be highly rated, what does this signify?

As per the conditions for eligible assets, the pool of assets to be assigned under this Scheme must have a minimum rating of “AA” or equivalent at fair value prior to the guarantee from the Government. Interestingly, technically, only a security can be rated based on the underlying risks and rewards, and not a pool of assets.  Therefore, how will rating of the pool of assets be carried out still remains a question.

There may be a question of expected loss assessment of a pool. However, unless there is a tranching of the pool done, the question of the pool getting a rating of AA or higher will arise only if all the loans in the pool are of AA or higher rating. This will make the Scheme completely counter-intuitive.

If one were to deduce that there must have been so much of tranching or over-collateralisation done, so as to bring the pool to a AA rating, then the following difficulties arise:

  1. In case of DA transaction, there is no question of any credit enhancement. If the transaction is taken as an independent modality, different from the DA mode, then, effectively, the first loss support comes from the originator in form of subordination or over-collateralisation, and the guarantee of the Government is actually the mezzanine or second-loss support.
  2. If the intent is to provide guarantee only at AA level, then the thickness of the guarantee, that is, 10%, and the cost of the guarantee, viz., 25 bps, both become questionable. The thickness of support required for moving a AA rated pool to a AAA level mostly will not be as high as 10%. Also, the cost of 25 bps for guaranteeing a AA-rated pool will imply that the credit spreads between AA and a AAA-rated pool are at least good enough to absorb a cost of 25 bps. It is notable that the 10% guarantee as well as the guarantee commission are both worked out on the outstanding pool value, first, at the time of the transaction, and thereafter, on 1st As the pool is an amortising one, the impact of amortisation that happens during the financial year will not be captured on the guarantee fee – that is, the fee remains fixed throughout the financial year.

Risk weight and capital requirements

  1. Can the bank, having got the Pool guaranteed by the GoI, treat the Pool has zero% risk weighted, or risk-weighted at par with sovereign risk weights?

No. for two reasons –one the guarantee is only partial and not full. Number two, the guarantee is only for losses upto first 2 years. So it is not that the credit exposure of the bank is fully guaranteed

  1. Can the Bank treat the guaranteed pool as having attained a AAA rating?

This seems fair, since, on the top of the presumptive AA rating before the guarantee, there is a guarantee of 10% on a first loss basis. This means there is an added 10% cushion to the bank. The bank;s own exposure may, therefore, certainly be taken to have attained a AAA level. Therefore, the risk weight may now be appropriate to the AAA risk weights (20%).

  1. What will be the risk weight once the guarantee is removed, after expiry of 2 years?

The risk weight should be based on the rating of the tranche/pool, say, AA.

Guarantee commission

  1. Is there a guarantee commission? If yes, who will bear the liability to pay the commission?

As already discussed in one of the questions above, the Scheme requires the originators to pay guarantee commission of 25 basis points on the amount of guarantee extended by the Government. Though the originator will pay the fee, but the same will be routed through purchasing bank.

  1. The pool is amortising pool. Is the cost of 25 bps to be paid on the original purchase price?

From the operational details, it is clear that the cost of 25 bps is, in the first instance, payable on the original fair value, that is, the purchase price. Thereafter, on 1st April of the financial year, it is computed on the remaining pool value.

Invocation of guarantee and refund

  1. When can the guarantee be invoked?

The guarantee can be invoked any time during the first 24 months from the date of assignment, if the interest/ principal has remained overdue for a period of more than 90 days.

  1. Can the purchasing bank invoke the guarantee as and when the default occurs in each account?

Yes. The purchasing bank can invoke the guarantee as and when any instalment of interest/ principal/ both remains overdue for a period of more than 90 days.

  1. To what extent can the purchasing bank recover its losses through invocation of guarantee?

When a loan goes bad, the purchasing bank can invoke the guarantee and recover its entire exposure from the Government. It can continue to recover its losses from the Government, until the upper cap of 10% of the total portfolio is reached. However, the purchasing bank will not be able to recover the losses if – (a) the pooled assets are bought back by the concerned NBFCs/HFCs or (b) sold by the purchasing bank to other entities.

  1. Within how many days will the purchasing bank be able to recover its losses from the Government?

As stated in the Scheme, the claims will be settled within 5 working days.

  1. What will happen if the purchasing bank recovers the amount lost, subsequent to the invocation of guarantee?

If the purchasing bank, by any means, recovers the amount subsequent to the invocation of the guarantee, it will have to refund the amount recovered or the amount received against the guarantee to the Government within 5 working days from the date of recovery. However, if the amount recovered is more than amount of received as guarantee, the excess collection will be retained by the purchasing bank.

Modus operandi

  1. What will be the process for a bank to obtain the benefit of the guarantee?

While the Department of Financial Services (DFS) is made the administrative ministry for the purpose of the guarantee under the Scheme, the Scheme involves the role of SIDBI as the interface between the banks and the GoI. Therefore, any bank intending to avail of the guarantee has to approach SIDBI.

  1. Can you elaborate on the various procedural steps to be taken to take the benefit of the guarantee?

The modus operandi of the Scheme is likely to be as follows:

  1. An NBFC approaches a bank with a static pool, which, based on credit enhancements, or otherwise, has already been uplifted to a rating of AA level.
  2. The NBFC negotiates and finalises its commercials with the bank.
  3. The bank then approaches SIDBI with a proposal to obtain the guarantee of the GOI. At this stage, the bank provides (a) details of the transaction; and (b) a certificate that the requirements of Chapter 11 of General Financial Rules, and in particular, those of para 280, have been complied with.
  4. SIDBI does its own evaluation of the proposal, from the viewpoint of adherence to Chapter 11 of GFR and para 280 in particular, and whether the proposal is in compliance with the provisions of the Scheme. SIDBI shall accordingly forward the proposal to DFS along with a specific recommendation to either provide the guarantee, or otherwise.
  5. DFS shall then make its decision. Once the decision of DFS is made, it shall be communicated to SIDBI and PSB.
  6. At this stage, PSB may consummate its transaction with the NBFC, after collecting the guarantee fees of 25 bps.
  7. PSB shall then execute its guarantee documentation with DFS and pay the money by way of guarantee commission.
  1. Para 280(i)(a) of the GFR states that there should be back-to-back agreements between the Government and Borrower to effect to the transaction – will this rule be applicable in case of this Scheme?

Para 280 has been drawn up based on the understanding that guarantee extended is for a loan where the borrower is known by the Government. In the present case, the guarantee is extended in order to partially support a sale of assets and not for a specific loan, therefore, this will not apply.

Miscellaneous

  1. Is there any reporting requirement?

The Scheme does provide for a real-time reporting mechanism for the purchasing banks to understand the remaining headroom for purchase of such pooled assets. The Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance would obtain the requisite information in a prescribed format from the PSBs and send a copy to the budget division of DEA, however, the manner and format of reporting has not been notified yet.

  1. What are to-do activities for the sellers to avail benefits under this Scheme?

Besides conforming to the eligibility criteria laid down in the Scheme, the sellers will also have to carry out the following in order to avail the benefits:

  1. The Asset Liability structure should restructured within three months to have positive ALM in each bucket for the first three months and on cumulative basis for the remaining period;
  2. At no time during the period for exercise of the option to buy back the assets, should the CRAR go below the regulatory minimum. The promoters shall have to ensure this by infusing equity, where required.

 

[1] http://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=192618

FAQs: NBFCs not to charge foreclosure / pre-payment penalties on floating rate term loans for Individual borrowers

-Kanakprabha Jethani and Julie Mehta

finserv@vinodkothari.com

 

RBI has vide notification[1] dated August 02, 2019 issued a clarification regarding waiver of foreclosure charges/ prepayment penalty on all floating rate term loans sanctioned to individual borrowers, as referred to in paragraph 30(4) of Chapter VI of Master Direction – Non-Banking Financial Company – Systemically Important Non-Deposit taking Company and Deposit taking Company (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2016 and paragraph 30(4) of Chapter V of Master Direction – Non-Banking Financial Company – Non-Systemically Important Non-Deposit taking Company (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2016.

As per the fair practice code, NBFCs cannot charge foreclosure charges/ pre-payment penalties on all floating rate term loans sanctioned to individual borrowers

RBI has further clarified that NBFCs shall not charge foreclosure charges/ pre-payment penalties on any floating rate term loan sanctioned for purposes other than business to individual borrowers, with or without co-obligant(s).

To understand its implication and for further understanding, please refer to the list of ‘frequently asked questions’ listed below:

Basic understanding

  1. What is pre-payment or foreclosure?

 Ans. Prepayment or foreclosure is the repayment of a loan by a borrower, in part or in full ahead of the pre-determined payment schedule.

However, the distinguishing factor is that pre-payment means early payment of scheduled instalments, while foreclosure means early payment of the entire outstanding amount leading to early closure of the loan term. To extend, pre-payment is partial in nature whereas foreclosure is the closure of the loan account before the due-date.

  1. How do foreclosure charges and pre-payment penalties differ?

Ans. Conceptually, both have the same meaning. The only difference is in the terminology as the charges levied at the time of foreclosure are termed as foreclosure charges and charges levied at the time of pre-payment of an instalment are termed as pre-payment penalties.

  1. What is a term loan?

Ans. A term loan means a loan for which the term for repayment is pre-determined. This is unlike a demand loan in which the borrower has to repay on demand of repayment by the lender.

  1. How is a floating rate term loan different from a fixed rate term loan?

Ans. A fixed-rate term loan refers to interest rates that remain locked throughout the loan period, while floating-rate term loan refers to interest rates that are subject to fluctuate owing to certain factors.

  1. How is floating rate determined?

Ans. Lenders determine the floating rate on the basis of certain base rate. Usually, the floating rate is some percentage points more than the base rate. Base rate is determined by taking into account the cost of funds of the lender.

  1. Where do we find such floating rate term loans?

Ans. Floating rates are generally found in loans of long-term as the cost of funds is likely to fluctuate in the long run. However, certain medium term loans also have floating interest rate depending upon the agreement between the lender and borrower.

  1. Can a borrower make pre-payment of a term loan?

 Ans. Courts have, in many cases, given judgements stating that in the absence of specific provision in the agreement between the lender and the borrower (Loan Agreement), the borrower has the inherent right to make pre-payment of a loan. This puts light on the principle that ‘every borrower has an inherent right to free himself from the loan’.[2]

In case a lender requires that the loan amount should not be prepaid, such a restriction must be expressly mentioned in the Loan Agreement.

  1. Can a lender levy foreclosure charges/pre-payment penalty?

Ans. Unlike the provisions relating to pre-payment of loan by the borrower, the provisions for levy of foreclosure charges/pre-payment penalties are largely governed by the terms of the Loan Agreement. A lender can levy only those charges which form part of the Loan Agreement.

If provisions for levy of foreclosure charges/pre-payment penalties are expressly mentioned in the Loan Agreement, the lender can levy such charges/penalty. In absence of such provision, the lender does not have the right to levy such charges/penalty.

Further, for entities regulated by RBI, it is mandatory to mention all kinds of charges and penalties applicable to a loan transaction in the loan application form.

  1. What happens on prepayment of loan?

 Ans. Pre-payment of loan amount by the borrower has dual-impact. One is saving of interest cost and the other is reduction in the loan period. When a borrower pre-pays the loan, huge interest cost is saved, specifically in case of personal loans, where the interest rates are quite high.

  1. Why are borrowers charged in event of pre-payment?

Ans. Lenders pre-determine a schedule in terms of the specified term of a loan, including the repayment schedule, and the interest expectation. An early prepayment disrupts this schedule and also means that the borrower has to pay lesser interest (since interest is calculated from the time the loan is disbursed, till it is repaid).

Pre-payment charges are used as a client retention tool to discourage borrowers to move to other lenders, who may offer better interest for transferring the outstanding amount. It puts a limitation to the number of choices a customer can have due to market competition.

To compensate for such loss, pre-payment charges exist.

  1. What is the rate at which pre-payment charges are imposed?

Ans. The rate is determined by the opportunity cost foregone due to pre-payment/foreclosure. The future cash flows are discounted at a relatively lower rate and accordingly imposed. The rate differs from bank to bank depending on their relevant factors and policies. For example: several banks charge early repayment penalties up to 2-3% of the principal amount outstanding.

  1. How do banks benefit from the pre-payment penalties?

Ans. The prepayment penalty is not charged with the motive to generate revenue, but to recover costs incurred due to mismatch in assets and liabilities. It is believed that when long-term loans are offered to borrowers, lending facility raises long-term deposits to match their assets and liabilities on their balance sheet. So when the loans are pre-paid with respect to their scheduled payments, lenders continue to have long-term deposits on their books, leading to a mismatch

  1. What are the other factors that need to be kept in mind for pre-payment or foreclosure of loan?

Ans. The applicable rate at which penalty shall be charged is a major factor as it should not result in higher cost to the borrower. Other factors include the process of undergoing pre-payment/foreclosure, lock-in period associated with the option, documentation etc.

  1. What has been clarified?

Ans. Earlier, the FPC provided that NBFCs shall not charge foreclosure charges/prepayment penalties from individuals on floating rate term loans.

The clarification that has been provided by the RBI is that the foreclosure charges/prepayment penalties shall not be charged floating rate term loans, provided to individuals for purposes other than business i.e. personal purposes loans

Applicability

  1. On whom will this restriction be applicable?

Ans. The change shall be applicable to all kinds of NBFCs, including systemically important as well as non-systemically important NBFCs who are into business of lending to individuals. However, NBFCs engaged in lending to non-individuals only are not required to comply with this requirement.

  1. What kinds of loans will be covered?

Ans. All floating rate term loans provided to individuals for purposes other than business shall be covered under the said restriction.

  1. How will the lender define that loan is for purposes other than business?

 Ans. Before extending loans, documentation and background checks are performed. This process includes specification of the purpose for which the loan is taken. This gives a clear picture of the nature of the agreement and helps distinguish between business purpose and personal purposes.

  1. Why is this restriction on floating rate term loans only and not on fixed rate terms loans?

 Ans. Fixed rate loans involve no fluctuations in interest rates in the entire loan term. Thus in case of pre-payment, the interest foregone can be computed and realised to evaluate pre-payment penalties to be imposed.

While floating rate loans involve fluctuations based on the underlying benchmark and thus interest foregone cannot be estimated. There lies no confirmation of the lender being in the loss position. There is no way to realise interest rate sulking or hiking. Thus there is no basis on which overall loss might be estimated. In response to this situation, restrictions are on floating rate term loans and not on fixed rate term loans.

  1. Are there any other entities under similar restriction?

 Ans. RBI has put restrictions, similar to this, on banks and Housing Finance Companies as well. Banks are not permitted to charge foreclosure charges / pre-payment penalties on home loans / all floating rate term loans, for purposes other than business, sanctioned to individual borrowers. HFCs are not permitted to charge foreclosure charges/ pre-payment penalties in case of foreclosure of floating interest rate housing loans or housing loans on fixed interest rate basis which are pre-closed by the borrowers out of their own sources.

  1. When does this clarification come to effect?

Ans. It is noteworthy that this is a clarification (and not a separate provision) issued by the RBI in respect of a provision which is already a part of RBI Master Directions for NBFCs. Therefore, this clarification is deemed to be in effect from the date the corresponding provision was issued by the RBI by way of a notification[3] i.e. August 01, 2014.

Implication

  1. What is the borrower’s perspective?

Ans. Borrower’s may choose to pre-pay due to their personal obligations/burden, or if they obtain their funds which were earlier stuck, or by borrowing from a cheaper source to repay. This waive off of penalty charges, might be a sign of relief to them as they would get out of the obligation of an existing loan arrangement by paying off early and save the compounding interests and explore from the other options available in the market.

  1. What will happen after such clarification?

Ans. Prior to this clarification, the provision seemed to be providing a safe shelter to individual borrowers where they could foreclose or pre-pay any loan taken by them. Sometimes, the borrowers misused this facility by availing funds at a lower cost from some other lender to pre-pay the loans of higher interest rate. This resulted in disruptions in the forecasts of lenders, sometimes also resulting in loss to the lender.

This clarification limits the benefit of pre-payment to loans of personal nature only which are not availed very frequently by a borrower and are generally prepaid when borrowers have genuine savings or capital inflows.

 

[1] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11647&Mode=0

[2] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/417200/

[3] http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=107879

Analysis of Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019

RBI eases end-use ECB norms for Corporates and NBFCs

Timothy Lopes, Executive, Vinod Kothari & Company

Introduction

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has wide press release[1] dated 30. 07. 2019 revised the framework for External Commercial Borrowings based on feedback from stakeholders, and in consultation with the Government of India, by relaxing the end-use restrictions with a view to ease the norms for Corporates and NBFC’s. The changes brought about can be found in the RBI Circular[2] on External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) Policy – Rationalisation of End-use Provisions dated 30. 07. 2019

Corporate sector continue to face liquidity crunch and this move from RBI is certainly a welcome move.

ECB are commercial loans raised by eligible borrowers from the recognised lenders for the permitted end use prescribed by RBI.

The ECB framework in India is mainly governed by the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA). Various provisions in respect of this type of borrowing are also included in the Foreign Exchange Management (Borrowing and Lending) Regulations, 2018[3] framed under FEMA.

The RBI has also issued directions and instructions to Authorised Persons, which are compiled and contained in the Master Direction – External Commercial Borrowings, Trade Credit, and Structured Obligations[4].

Relaxation granted in end-use restrictions

 

In the earlier framework as covered in the Master Direction – External Commercial Borrowings, Trade Credit, and Structured Obligations (Master Directions), ECB proceeds could not be utilized for working capital purposes, general corporate purposes and repayment of Rupee loans except when the ECB was availed from foreign equity holder for a minimum average maturity period (MAMP) of 5 years.

Further on-lending out of ECB proceeds for real estate activities, investment in capital market, Equity investment, working capital purposes, general corporate purposes, repayment of rupee loans was also prohibited. These restrictions were made under the end-uses (Negative list) of the Master Direction.

With a view to further liberalize the ECB Framework in view of current hardship being faced by corporate sector; RBI has decided to relax these end-use restrictions.

Accordingly the said relaxations by RBI reflect as under:

Revised ECB Framework
Particulars ECBs Availed from By Permitted End-uses MAMP
Erstwhile Provision Foreign Equity Holder Eligible Borrower ·         Working capital purposes

·         General corporate purposes or,

·         Repayment of Rupee loans

5 Years
Amended Provision Recognised Lenders* Eligible Borrower ·         Working capital purposes and,

·         General corporate purposes

10 Years
Recognised Lenders* NBFC’s ·         On-lending for:

o   Working Capital purposes and,

o   General Corporate Purpose

10 Years
Recognised Lenders* Eligible Borrowers including NBFC’s ·         Repayment of Rupee loans availed domestically for capital expenditure and,

·         On-lending for above purpose by NBFC’s

7 Years
Recognised Lenders* Eligible Borrowers including NBFC’s ·         Repayment of Rupee loans availed domestically for purposes other than capital expenditure and,

·         On-lending for above purpose by NBFC’s

10 Years
*ECBs will be permitted to be raised for above purposes from recognised lenders except foreign branches/ overseas subsidiaries of Indian Banks and subject to Para 2.2 of the Master Direction dealing with limit and leverage.

 

Relaxation for Corporate borrowers classified as SMA-2 or NPA

 

Further, Eligible Corporate Borrowers are now permitted to avail ECB for repayment of Rupee loans availed domestically for capital expenditure in manufacturing and infrastructure sector if classified as Special Mention Account (SMA-2) or Non-Performing Assets (NPA), under any one time settlement with lenders.

Permission to Lender Banks to assign loans to ECB lenders

Lender banks are also permitted to sell, through assignment, such loans to eligible ECB lenders, except foreign branches/ overseas subsidiaries of Indian banks, provided, the resultant ECB complies with all-in-cost, minimum average maturity period and other relevant norms of the ECB framework.

These permissions would reduce the burden of the lender banks who classified borrower’s account as SMA-2 or NPA.

Conclusion

Liberalization of the ECB policy by RBI acts as a step toward increased access to global markets by eligible Indian borrowers. In the current scenario of an economic slowdown, these changes come as a push upwards for the Indian economy.

Besides the above-mentioned changes in the Master Direction, all other provisions of the ECB policy remain unchanged.

[1] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_PressReleaseDisplay.aspx?prid=47736

[2] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11636&Mode=0

[3] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11441&Mode=0

[4] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_ViewMasDirections.aspx?id=11510#1

Indian Securitisation Market opens big in FY 20 – A performance review and a diagnosis of the inherent problems in the market

By Abhirup Ghosh , (abhirup@vinodkothari.com)(finserv@vinodkothari.com)

Ever since the liquidity crisis crept in the financial sector, securitisation and direct assignment transactions have become the main stay fund raising methods for the financial sector entities. This is mainly because of the growing reluctance of the banks in taking direct exposure on the NBFCs, especially after the episodes of IL&FS, DHFL etc.

Resultantly, the transactions have witnessed unprecedented growth. For instance, the volume of transactions in the first quarter of the current financial year stood at a record ₹ 50,300 crores[1] which grew at 56% on y-o-y basis from ₹ 32,300 crores. Segment-wise, the securitisation transactions grew by whooping 95% to ₹ 22,000 crores as against ₹ 11,300 crores a year back. The volume of direct assignments also grew by 35% to ₹ 28,300 crores as against ₹ 21,000 crores a year back.

The chart below show the performance of the industry in the past few years:

Direct Assignments have been dominating market with the majority share. During Q1 FY 20, DAs constituted roughly 56% of the total market and PTCs filled up the rest. The chart below shows historical statistics about the share of DA and PTCs:

In terms of asset classes, non-mortgage asset classes continue to dominate the market, especially vehicle loans. The table below shows the share of the different asset classes of PTCs:

Asset class

Q1 FY 20 share Q1 FY 19 share FY 19 share
Vehicle (CV, CE, Car) 51% 57% 49%
Mortgages (Home Loan & LAP) 20% 0% 10%
Tractor 6% 0% 10%
MSME 5% 1% 4%
Micro Loans 4% 23% 16%
Lease Rentals 0% 13% 17%
Others 14% 6% 1%

Asset class wise share of PTCs

Source: ICRA

Shortcomings in the current securitisation structures

Having talked about the exemplary performance, let us now focus on the potential threats in the market. A securitisation transaction becomes fool proof only when the transaction achieves bankruptcy-remoteness, that is, when all the originator’s bankruptcy related risks are detached from the securitised assets. However, the way the current transactions are structured, the very bankruptcy-remoteness of the transactions has become questionable. Each of the problems have been discussed separately below:

Commingling risk

In most of the current structures, the servicing of the cash flows is carried out of the originator itself. The collections are made as per either of the following methods:

  1. Cash Collection – This is the most common method of repayment in case of micro finance and small ticket size loans, where the instalments are paid in cash. Either the collection agent of the lender goes to the borrower for collecting the cash repayments or the borrower deposits the cash directly into the bank account of the lender or at the registered office or branch of the lender.
  2. Encashment of post-dated cheques (PDCs) – The PDCs are taken from the borrower at the inception of the credit facility for the EMIs and as security.
  3. Transfer through RTGS/NEFT by the customer to the originator’s bank account.
  4. NACH debit mandate or standing instructions.

 

In all of the aforesaid cases, the payment flows into the current/ business account of the originator. The moment the cash flows fall in the originator’s current account, they get exposed to commingling risk. In such a case, if the originator goes into bankruptcy, there could be serious concerns regarding the recoverability of the cash flows collected by the originator but not paid to the investors. Also, because redirection of cash flows upon such an event will be extremely difficult to implement. Therefore, in case of exigencies like the bankruptcy of the originator, even an AAA-rated security can become trash overnight. This brings up a very important question on whether AAA-PTCs are truly AAA or not.

 

This issue can be addressed if, going forward, the originators originate only such transactions in which repayments are to happen through NACH mandates. NACH mandates are executed in favour of third party service providers which triggers direct debit from the bank account of the customers every month against the instalments due. Upon receipt of the money from the customer, the third party service providers then transfer the amount received to the originators. Since, the mandates are originally executed in the name of the third party service providers and not on the originators, the payments can easily be redirected in favour of the securitisation trusts in case the originator goes into bankruptcy. The ease of redirection of cash flows NACH mechanism provides is not available in any other ways of fund transfer, referred above.

Will the assets form part of the liquidation estate of the lessor, since under IndAS the assets continue to get reflected on Balance Sheet of the originator?

With the implementation of Ind AS in financial sector, most of the securitisation transactions are failing to fulfil the complex de-recognition criteria laid down in Ind AS 109. Resultantly, the receivables continue to stay on the books of the originator despite a legal true sale of the same. Due to this a new concern has surfaced in the industry that is, whether the assets, despite being on the books of the originator, be absolved from the liquidation estate of the originator in case the same goes into liquidation.

Under the current framework for bankruptcy of corporates in India, the confines of liquidation estate are laid in section 36 of the IBC. Section 36 (3) lays what all will be included therein. Primarily, section 36 (3) (a) is the relevant provision, saying “any assets over which the corporate debtor has ownership rights” will be included in the estate. There is a reference to the balance sheet, but the balance sheet is merely an evidence of the ownership rights. The ownership rights are a matter of contract and in case of receivables securitised, the ownership is transferred to the SPV.

The bounds of liquidation estate are fixed by the contractual rights over the asset. Contractually, the originator has transferred, by way of true sale, the receivables. The continuing balance sheet recognition has no bearing on the transfer of the receivables. Therefore, even if the originator goes into liquidation, the securitised assets will remain unaffected.

Conclusion

Despite the shortcomings in the current structures, the Indian market has opened big. After the market posted its highest volumes in the year before, several industry experts doubted whether the market will be able to out-do its previous record or for that matter even reach closer to what it has achieved. But after a brilliant start this year, it seems the dream run of the Indian securitisation industry has not ended yet.


[1] https://www.icra.in/Media/OpenMedia?Key=94261612-a1ce-467b-9e5d-4bc758367220

An analysis of the Model Tenancy Act, 2019

1.      Introduction

In India, every state has its own law on tenancy matters. The matters, which are not covered by state legislations are governed by the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (“TPA”), which is central legislation dealing with the matters between tenants and landlords. However, it covers transaction between tenant and landowner in the form of a lease. Codified legislation dealing exclusively on rent related matters in the real estate market has been long ignored in India. Lack of an exclusive legal framework hampered the growth of rental housing segment and resulted in low investments in the rental housing sector. The draft Model Tenancy Act, 2015 was an effort made earlier to codify the law on tenancy. but majority of states never implemented the same. In Union Budget 2019, it was proposed that in order to promote rental housing, new tenancy laws will be formulated to remove the archaic laws currently in use. In furtherance to the said proposition, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MHUA) released the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019 (“MTA”) on July 10, 2019, which aims to regulate rental housing by a market-oriented approach while balancing interests of landowner and tenant at the same time. The article points out current problems of rental housing in India along with the issue that how MTA is going to compensate for these problems. It also presents an overview of MTA and loopholes present in it.

2.      Need for rental housing

Housing is one of the basic necessities of life. The rapid pace of urbanization in India has resulted in severe shortage of housing. People go for rental housing because  low-income or people are not ready to build their own house.In spite of government’s prime consideration to affordable housing, many poor households live in congested conditions, which indicates that housing is unaffordable for a large section of population, be it ownership or rental.

The Draft National Urban Rental Housing Policy, 2015 (“the Policy”) pointed out that there is a huge housing shortage in urban areas and on the other hand, there are massive stocks of vacant houses.[1]Possible reasons ascertained for vacant houses could be  low rental yield, fear of repossession, lack of incentives etc. The Policy defines rental housing as a property occupied by someone other than the owner, for which the tenant pays a periodic mutually agreed rent to the owner.[2] The policy suggested that if these vacant houses are made available for rental housing, then some, if not most of the urban housing shortage, could be addressed.[3] Hence, the need for rental housing can be understoodunder the following heads-

  1. An alternative to eliminate the problem of housing shortage in view of ever-increasing population of India.
  2. Prevention of future growth of slums by providing affordable housing to all.
  3. Rental housing could be turned as a steady source of income for the landlords, making investment in rental market attractive.

3.      Current problems of rental housing in India

Rental housing is a subject on which States have exclusive right to legislate. It is a state subject as mentioned under item 18 in List II of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. Although, Central Government can guide the states as we have a quasi-federal structure in India, therefore, Central Government has power to make model law on rent control or tenancy.

At present, nearly every state has its own law governing matters relating to rental housing in their jurisdiction in the name of Rent Control Laws. However, these rent control laws are not adequate to satisfy the need for rental housing in true sense. Because, issues, such as lack of affordable housing, lack of investment in rental housing etc., are still present in the country.

The problems of rental housing in India, as present under different existing rent control laws, can be encapsulated as follow:

  1. Fixation of standard rent:

Existing rent control laws provide for standard rent or fair rent, which is calculated on the basis of cost of construction involved, when the premise was built and does not include present market value of the premise as a consideration to determine standard rent. This proves to be major disincentive for landlords and investors, who want to invest in rental market as it will give very low rate of return.

  1. Overstaying problem of tenants:

Existing rent control laws do not provide for any remedy for when tenants do not vacant the rent premises even after termination of the tenancy period. Therefore, landlords often fear that they might lose control on their premises and had to go long litigation process for recovering their premises.

  1. Reduced liquidity for landlords:

Freeze of availability of rental housing is evident in light of the long litigation proceedings relating to recovery of rental premises by the landlord or proceedings relating to eviction of tenants. When the proceedings are undergoing, it is difficult to rent out the premises which are lis pendens in court of law and thereby it reduces liquidity for landlords in the market.

  1. Security deposit:

From the point of view of tenants, it is unfair to give limitless amount to the landlords in the name of security deposit or pugree. Existing rent control laws do not provide for any upper cap as far as security deposit is concerned and tenants have to suffer in the hands of landlords, who demand lump sum amount as much as they want at the beginning of tenancy period. Because of this practice, poor households choose to live in slum areas as they cannot afford to give arbitrary amount of security deposit, which leads to lack of affordable housing in the Country.

  1. Landlord’s right to evict the tenant on false grounds:

It has been seen in many cases that landlords file false cases to evict tenants on the ground of non-payment of rent because most of the existing rent control laws do no mandate receipt of rent to be given by the landlord.

  1. Lease under Transfer of Property Act, 1882:

Section 105 of the aforesaid Act defines lease as “a lease of immoveable property is a transfer of a right to enjoy such property, made for a certain time, express or implied, or in perpetuity, in consideration of a price paid or promised, or of money, a share of crops, service or any other thing of value, to be rendered periodically or on specified occasions to the transferor by the transferee, who accepts the transfer on such terms. The transferor is called the lessor, the transferee is called the lessee, the price is called the premium, and the money, share, service or other thing to be so rendered is called the rent.” It is to be noted that in case of a lease agreement, terms of the same cannot be changed until the expiry of the lease period unlike tenancy agreement. In practice, landlords often opt for tenancy agreement under rent control laws where they can execute tenancy on a month-to-month basis and can alter its terms.. However, in areas with high vacancy rate of rental premises, landlords choose for lease agreement under Section 105 and thereby make the use of rent control laws fatal. In addition, TPA and rent control laws do not mandate a written agreement to be executed, which is another problem to enforce the rights of either party to the oral agreement and leads to never-ending litigation proceedings in case of disputes.

  1. Leave and License Contract:

Apart from rent control laws and lease under the TPA, people often use leave and license contract as given under the Indian Easements Act, 1882. Section 52 of the said Act defines license as- “where one person grants to another, or to a definite number of other persons, a right to do, or continue to do, in or upon the immovable property of the grantor, something which would, in the absence of such right, be unlawful, and such right does not amount to an easement or an interest in the property, the right is called a license.” Hence, the licensor gives the license to the licensee to use the property, which includes usage same as applicable to rental market without transferring a specific interest in the immovable property. Thus, to execute a landlord-tenant relationship, there exist different contracts under the different names and different procedures, the ambiguities of which can be used by the landlord or tenant to influence the law as per their needs.

4.      Overview of MTA

MTA has been drafted with a view to balance the interests of the landowner and tenant and to provide for speedy dispute redressal by establishing adjudicatory bodies under MTA. It also tries to create an accountable and transparent environment for renting the premises and promotes sustainable ecosystem to various segments of society including migrants, professionals, workers, students and urban poor. To understand what MTA proposes for tenants and landlords, a brief overview has been presented here under the following heads-

4.1       Institutional framework – regulatory and judicial bodies-

Rent Authority-

Section 29 of MTA provides for the appointment of Rent Authority to be an officer who is

not below the rank of Deputy Collector. Rent Authority exercises same power as vested in Rent Court in the following matters-

  1. Upload details of tenancy agreement on a digital platform in the local vernacular or state language in the form prescribed and provide a unique identification number to the parties[4];
  2. Fix or revise the rent on an application by the landowner or tenant[5];
  3. Investigate the case and pass an order in case of deposit of rent by the tenant with the rent authority, if the landowner does not accept the rent[6];
  4. Allow the tenant, if requested, to vacate the premises if it becomes uninhabitable in absence of repairs by the landlord.[7]
  5. Conduct an inquiry and allow compensation or levy penalty in case of an application made to it by the landlord or tenant if any person cuts-off or withholds any essential supply or service in the premises occupied by the tenant or the landowner.[8]

Rent Court and Rent Tribunal-

Section 32 and 33 provides for the constitution of Rent Court and Rent Tribunal respectively. Section 34 gives exclusive jurisdiction to Rent Court and Rent Authority to hear and decide the applications relating to disputes between landowner and tenant and matters connected with and ancillary thereto. For speedy disposal of cases, Rent Court or Rent Tribunal has to dispose the case within 60 days from the date of receipt of the application or appeal and shall record the reasons in writing in case of disposal of case exceeds 60 days period.[9]Appeal from the orders of the Rent Court lies to the Rent Tribunal.[10] In addition, order of Rent Court or Rent Tribunal shall be executable by as a decree of a civil court.[11]Following reliefs can be given by the Rent Court[12]:

  1. Delivery of possession of the premises to the party in whose favor the decision is made;
  2. Attachment of bank account of the losing party for the satisfaction of the amount to be paid;
  3. Appoint any advocate or any other competent person including officers of the Rent Court or local administration or local body for the execution of the order.

4.2       Scope of coverage-

MTA applies to any premises, which is, let separately for residence or commercial or educational use except industrial use.[13] However, MTA does not provide what constitutes residence/commercial/educational/industrial use. Besides, MTA does not apply to the following premises[14]

  1. Hotel, lodging house, dharamshala or inn etc.;[15]
  2. Premises owned or promoted by-
    1. The Central/ State/ UT Government, or
    2. Local Authority, or
    3. Government undertaking or enterprise, or
    4. Statutory body, or
    5. Cantonment board;
  3. Premises owned by a company, university or organization given on rent to its employees as part of service contract;
  4. Premises owned by owned by religious or charitable institutions as may be specified by notification;
  5. Premises owned by owned by any trust registered under the Public Trust Act of the State;
  6. Premises owned by owned by Wakfs registered under the Wakf Act, 1995;
  7. Any other building specifically exempted in public interest through notification.

However, if the owner of any of the premises mentioned under in (b) to (g) wishes a tenancy agreement to be regulated under MTA, then he can inform the same to the Rent Authority.

4.3       Protection of landlord-

As stated above the prime object of the MTA is to eliminate the fear among landlords regarding repossession of their premises and increase the growth of investment in rental sector of the market. Keeping this view, MTA proposes to give protection to landlord in following manner-

  1. Subletting of rented premises cannot be effected without prior consent of landlord in
  2. writing along with disclosure of all details of sub-letting to landlord by the tenant. .[16]
  3. Landlord is allowed to make deduction from security deposit amount for any liability of the tenant.[17]
  4. Landlord is allowed to deduct the amount from the security deposit or can ask the amount payable from the tenant, in case the tenant refuses to carry out scheduled or agreed repairs in the premises.[18]
  5. Landlord can file an application to the Rent Authority against the tenant in case of cut-off or withhold of any essential supply or service in the premises by the tenant.[19]
  6. Landlord can evict the tenant on an application made to the Rent Court on any of the grounds mentioned under Section 21. These grounds are-
  7. Failure of agreement on rent payable;
  8. Failure of tenant to pay the arrears of rent in full and other charges payable unless the payment of the same within 1 month of notice being served on the tenant;
  9. Tenant has parted with the possession of whole or any part of the premises without obtaining the written consent of the landlord;
  10. Tenant has continued misuse of the premises even after receipt of notice from the landowner to stop such misuse;
  11. The premises are required by the landlord for carrying out any repairs, additions, alterations etc., which cannot be carried out without the premises being vacated unless re-entry of tenant has been pre-agreed between the parties;
  12. The premises or any part thereof are required by the landlord for carrying out any repairs, additions, alterations etc. for change of its use as a consequence of change of land use by the competent authority;
  13. Tenant has given written notice to vacate the premises and in consequence of that notice, the landlord has contracted to sell the accommodation or has taken any other step, as a result of which his interests would seriously suffer if he is not put in possession of that accommodation.
  14. In case of overstay of the tenant beyond tenancy period, the landlord is entitled to get compensation of double of the monthly rent for 2 months and 4 times of the monthly rent.[20]
  15. Landlord can make any construction or improvement to the rented premises after permission of the Rent Court obtained in this behalf.[21]
  16. Landlord is allowed to fix or revise the rent payable by the tenant, provided the same should be agreed by the tenant in the tenancy agreement.[22]

4.4       Protection of tenant-

MTA has not only given protection to landlords but balances the interests of the tenants as well. With this view, MTA proposes to give protection to landlord in the following manner-

  1. In the event of death of the tenant, his/her successors will have the same rights and obligations as agreed in tenancy agreement for the remaining period of the tenancy.[23]
  2. Rent cannot be increased during the tenancy period, unless the amount of increase or method for increase is expressly set out in the Tenancy Agreement.[24]
  3. Tenant is entitled to get refund of the security deposit amount at the time of vacating the premises after deduction of amount of liability, if any.[25]
  4. Tenant is entitled to get a written acknowledgment rent receipt by the landlord.[26]
  5. Where the landlord refuses to accept the rent, tenant may deposit it with the Rent Authority.[27]
  6. Tenant is allowed to deduct the amount from periodic rent, in case the landlord refuses to carry out the scheduled or agreed repairs in the premises.[28]
  7. Where the premises becomes uninhabitable and landlord refuses for repairs, thenthetenant has the right to vacate the premises after giving 15 days notice in writing to the landlord or with the permission of the Rent Authority, in case the.[29]
  8. Tenant can file an application to the Rent Authority against the landlord in case of cut-off or withhold of any essential supply or service in the premises by the landlord.[30]
  9. Tenant is entitled to get refund of such an advance amount and interest, in case of default, after deduction of rent and other charges in case of eviction proceedings initiated by the landlord under Section 21.[31]
  10. Tenant may give up possession of the premises on giving a one-month prior notice or notice as required under the tenancy agreement to the landlord.[32]

5.      How will the MTA help rental housing issue?

MTA recommends eradicating the existing rental housing problems by incorporating needful provisions. MTA has recognized the problems in existing rent control laws in its preamble as lack of growth of rental housing segment and lack of the landlords renting out their vacant premises. For better understanding of these needful provisions in MTA, a comparison of key provisions of existing rent control laws and MTA has been produced in Annexure A. In conclusion, the table suggests that MTA provides for market-oriented approach by leaving the fixation of rent amount on parties[33], who may fix or revise it considering current market value of the premises and thereby increasing the possibilities of high rate of return to the investors in the rental housing market. On the other hand, to remove the fear of the landlords of losing possession of the premises has been taken care by MTA by giving a remedy in form of compensation to the landlord[34].

6.      What do the state governments have to do?

As mentioned above, housing is a state subject and States have exclusive right to legislate upon it. MTA proposes only a model on how the issues relating to rental housing as existed under current laws relating to tenancy can be eliminated. It is completely on the states to adopt or not adopt MTA in their state. For better functioning of the rental housing in the state and to resolve the issues as point out above, state should adopt MTA. Moreover, States are free to make amendments in the proposed provisions in MTA while incorporating the same in their states.[35]

7.      What incentives will the state governments have for enacting the MTA?

MTA only proposes a model and States are under no obligation to enact MTA in their respective jurisdictions. Therefore, what the states will get for enacting MTA is equally an important question to consider. Section 46 of MTA provides that if any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions MTA, the State/UT Government may, by order, not inconsistent with the provisions MTA, remove the difficulty. Hence, any State enacting MTA is empowered to remove difficulty or amend the provision in their jurisdiction, if there arises any difficulty in implementation of the MTA.

Moreover, housing is one of the basic needs of life and raising the standard of living of its people is one of the primary duties of State as enshrined under the Article 47 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, States shall make every endeavor to resolve the issue of affordable housing in the best manner possible and MTA serves this objective well.

8.      Drawbacks of the MTA

Despite all the good attempts made in the provisions of MTA to remove the current problems relating to rental housing, MTA shortfalls on following grounds:

  1. Moreover, the term ‘Landlord’ covers ‘Lessor’ and the term ‘Tenant’ covers ‘Lessee’ in its definitions, but the MTA nowhere provides that it will override the provisions relating to Lease under the Transfer of Property Act, 1882. Therefore, usage of the term lessor/lessee would create conflict in practice since application of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 is not clarified under the MTA .
  2. Lodging house and hotels are kept outside the scope of MTA. Therefore, application of the MTA to premises providing paying guest facilities is not clear.
  3. MTA provides for prospective application and gives no redress to tenancies, which are already in existence, prior to the commencement of MTA. Hence, position regarding existing tenancies is left untouched.
  4. Successor-in-interest has not been included in the definition of the term ‘tenant’ under Section 2 (m) of the MTA. However, Section 6 provides for successors of the tenant to come into the shoes of tenant in case of his/her death. This provision creates anomaly that after death of tenant, his/her successor-in-interest may deny acceptance of tenancy agreement on the ground that he/she is not covered within the definition of the term ‘tenant’.
  5. The term ‘rent’ is not defined under the Act, because of which, the form of rent payable is not clear, i.e. whether it has to be necessarily in cash or kind or crops or services rendered.
  6. The MTA does not address the situation in case of failure to execute tenancy agreement, failure to obtain consent of landowner for subletting, failure to refund security deposit at the time of taking over vacant possession of the premises by the landlord, failure to observe obligations imposed on parties. Although specific establishment of adjudicatory bodies has been provided under the MTA but the same results in increase of litigation matters before judicial bodies established under the MTA.
  7. MTA is open to be adopted by the States and does not necessarily impose application of its provisions to State.
  8. MTAdoes not talk about weak bargaining power of tenants and allows parties to agree on rent amount, which may cause prejudice to weaker sections of the society.
  9. MTA does not talk about over-riding effect of MTA on existing laws on tenancy, lease under the TPA, license under the Indian Easements Act, 1882 to uphold the objectives of the MTA.

9.      Conclusion

MTA is a welcoming step in rental matters relating to any premises. Establishment of the adjudicating authorities is going to lessen the burden on lower courts in the country in the matters relating to tenancy. However, application of the MTA would be interesting to see as to how many states actually implement MTA because it is only a model and not mandatory for states to adopt it.

 

 

Annexure-A

Comparison of Existing Rent Control Laws and MTA:

The author has tried to analyze some of the major existing rent control laws[36]in comparison with the MTA. The same has reproduced in a table form below:

Point of difference Existing Laws MTA Comments
Purpose of the Act 1.      Control of rent and protection of tenant from payment of rent more than the standard rent, and

2.      Protection of tenants from eviction,

 

It provides not only for protection of tenants but also provides for protection of landowners. Most of the existing rent control laws are tenant-centric; whereas MTA balances the interests of landowner and tenant.
Exemption  Premises belonging to the Government are exempted but no specific provision is present regarding exemption of religious or charitable premises and premises owned by a university except Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999.[37] MTA exempts any premises owned by the Government, religious or charitable institutions, and premises owned by a company, university or organization given on rent to its employees as part of service contract.[38] MTA applies to all kind of government occupied premises and publicly used premises unlike existing rent control laws.

 

Definition of ‘Landlord’ If the premises were let to a tenant then landlord means a person who-

1.      is receiving, or is entitled to receive the rent of any premises, or

2.      trustee, guardian or receiver, who is receiving or is entitled to receive rent, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, any other person who cannot enter into a contract (such as minor, person with unsound mind etc.).

 

If the premises were let to a tenant then landlord (Landowner/Lessor) means a person who[39]

1.      is receiving, or is entitled to receivethe rent of any premises,and

2.      includes successor-in-interest,

3.      trustee, guardian or receiver, who is receiving or is entitled to receive rent, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, any other person who cannot enter into a contract (such as minor, person with unsound mind etc.).

MTA covers Lessor within the term ‘Landlord’ and includes successor-in-interest unlike existing rent control laws.

 

Definition of ‘Premises’ Premises mean any building or part of a building rented out, and includes-

1.      Gardens, garages or outhouses, any furnituresupplied by the landlord,

2.      any fittings affixedto such building.

However, premises do not include hotel, lodging house.

 

 

Premises mean any building or part of a itrented out for the purpose of residence or commercial or educational use, (except for industrial use) and includes[40]

1.      the garden, garage or closed parking area, grounds and out-houses, appertaining to such building or part of the building,

2.      any fitting to such building or part of the building for the more beneficial enjoyment thereof,

However, premises do not include hotel, lodging house, dharamshala or inn etc.[41]

State RCAs do not explicitly exclude industrial use, unlike MTA and do not specifically recognize a particular purpose of use of building to be cover within the term ‘premises’.
Definition of ‘Tenant’ Some of the rent control laws do not provide definition of term ‘tenant’. And others include tenant as a person-

1.      who is paying the rent, or

2.      deemed tenant, or

3.      sub-tenant,

4.      member of tenant’s family in case of death of tenant.

Tenant/Lesseemeans a person[42]

1.      by whom the rent is payable, or

2.      on whose behalf the rent is payable, and

3.      includes a sub-tenant,and

4.      any person continuing in possession after the termination of his tenancy whether before or after the commencement of this Act.

However, tenant does not include any person against whom any order or decree for eviction has made.

MTA does not include successor-in-interest within the definition of tenant.
Standard rent Standard rent means a rent fixed by the Controller under rent control laws. No provision is made. MTA does not provide for the definition of the term ‘rent’.
Tenancy agreement It was not necessary and tenancy can be affected even without entering into tenancy agreement. It means a written agreement executed by the landowner and the tenant.[43] Moreover, it is mandatorycondition for a tenancy to come into effect.[44] MTA making the tenancy agreement mandatory unlike existing rent control laws.
Sub-letting No provision regarding prior written consent of landlord for sub-letting by tenant. Prior written consent of the landowner is madecompulsory.[45] More stringent provision.
Fixation of rent Rent fixed (standard rent) based on the value of land andcost of construction when built. The rent is the amount agreed between the landowner and the tenant as per the terms of the tenancy agreement.[46] Standard rent or fair rent concept has removed in MTA.
Increase in rent It is unilateral by the landlord with the approval of the controller. Revision of rent between the landowner and the tenant shall be as per the terms set out in the Tenancy Agreementor on a prior 3 months notice to the tenant.[47] Mutually agreed increase in rent is provided under MTA unlike rent control laws.
Temporary recovery of possession The landlord is entitled to get possession of the building, if bona fide, it is required by him to carry out repairs, alterations or additions, which cannot be carried out without the building being vacated, after which the building will again be offered to the tenant.

 

Rent Court may on an application made to it, make the order that the landlord is entitled to get possession of the premises or any part thereof on account of any repairs or rebuilding or additions or alterations or demolition, which cannot be carried out without the premises being vacated, provided that such re-possession has to be mutually agreed to between the landowner and the tenant and the new tenancy agreement has to submitted with the Rent Authority.[48] More requirements that are stringent have been put on the parties under MTA.
Deposit of rent Many of state rent control lawsdo not provide for deposit of rent lawfully payable to the landlord in respect of the building, before the authority as may be prescribed. Explicit provision provided for deposit of rent with the Rent Authority where the landowner does not accept the rent or refuses to give a receipt or if landowner does not accept the rent.[49] Transparency and accountability enabled provision.
Overstay of tenant No deterrent provision, therefore landlords fear to give their houses on rent, which in turn reduces the supply of renting houses in the market. It provides for compensation i.e. four times the rent, to the landlord.[50] MTA provides Remedy in favour of landlord.
Rent Receipt on payment of rent No provision. Every tenant is entitled to get a written receiptfrom the landowner for the amount paid to him.[51] Tenant friendly provision to eliminate abuse against tenants.
Security deposits No explicit provision existed for security deposits/ pugree in addition to rent. MTA provides for 2 months’ rent in residential property, 1-month rent in non-residential property as security deposit.[52] MTA provides elimination of abuse against tenants.
Inheritance of tenancy Order of inheritance has provided in most of the state RCAs. No order of successors has given in MTA.[53] MTA introduces more wide import in case of inheritance of tenancy.
Structural alteration to the rent premises Rent control laws provide for structural alteration without consent of tenant and increase rent. MTA provides for structural alteration to rent premises only if the same is provided in the  agreementwith the tenant and increase the rent.[54] Tenant friendly provision to eliminate abuse against tenants.
Adjudicatory Authority Controller or Civil Courts Rent Authority, Rent Court, Rent Tribunal[55] Specific adjudicatory bodies introduced in MTA for speedy disposal of rent related matters.

 

 

 

[1]Draft National Urban Rental Housing Policy, 2015, p 10.

[2]Id. At p 5.

[3]Id.

[4] Section 4 (4), MTA, 2019.

[5] Section 10, MTA, 2019.

[6] Section 14 (2), MTA, 2019.

[7] Section 15 (5), MTA, 2019.

[8] Section 20, MTA, 2019.

[9] Section 35 (2), MTA, 2019.

[10] Section 37, MTA, 2019.

[11] Section 36 (7), MTA, 2019.

[12] Section 38 (1), MTA, 2019.

[13] Section 2 (e), MTA, 2019.

[14] Section 3, MTA, 2019.

[15]Id.

[16] Section 7, MTA, 2019.

[17] Section 11 (2), MTA, 2019.

[18] Section 15 (3), MTA, 2019.

[19] Section 20, MTA, 2019.

[20] Section 22, MTA, 2019.

[21] Section 25, MTA, 2019.

[22] Section 8 & 9, MTA, 2019.

[23] Section 6, MTA, 2019.

[24] Section 9 (4), MTA, 2019.

[25] Section 11 (2), MTA, 2019.

[26] Section 13 (2), MTA, 2019.

[27] Section 14, MTA, 2019.

[28] Section 15 (4), MTA, 2019.

[29] Section 15 (5), MTA, 2019.

[30] Section 20, MTA, 2019.

[31] Section 23, MTA, 2019.

[32] Section 28, MTA, 2019.

[33] Section 8, MTA, 2019.

[34] Section 22, MTA, 2019.

[35] Section 46, MTA, 2019.

[36]Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999; Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958; Andhra Pradesh Buildings (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control (Amendment) Act, 1960; The West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act, 1997.

[37] Section 3, Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999.

[38] Section 3, MTA, 2019.

[39] Section 2(b), MTA, 2019.

[40] Section 2(e), MTA, 2019.

[41]Id.

[42] Section 2(m), MTA, 2019.

[43] Section 2(a), MTA, 2019.

[44] Section 4, MTA, 2019.

[45] Section 7 (1), MTA, 2019.

[46] Section 8, MTA, 2019.

[47] Section 9, MTA, 2019.

[48] Section 9 (6), MTA, 2019.

[49] Section 14 (1), MTA, 2019.

[50] Section 22, MTA, 2019.

[51] Section 13 (2), MTA, 2019.

[52] Section 11, MTA, 2019.

[53] Section 6, MTA, 2019.

[54] Section 9 (6), MTA, 2019.

[55] Chapter VI & VII, MTA, 2019.

Lease Accounting under IFRS 16- A leap towards transparency!

Megha Mittal

mittal@vinodkothari.com

Our mission is to develop IFRS Standards that bring transparency, accountability and efficiency to financial markets around the world”, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is indeed on a way towards fulfilling its mission. The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) have been worldwide acknowledged and appreciated as a benchmark of transparency, trust and growth. In another specimen of its attempt to increase transparency in financial markets around the world, the IASB, back in 2016, introduced the IFRS 16, to be applicable w.e.f. annual reporting period beginning on or after 01.01.2019.

Introduced with the objective of introducing a single lessee accounting model, the IFRS-16, aims at ensuring faithful representation of lease transactions and pioneers the concept of “Right-to-Use” Assets.

In this article, we intend to delve deeper into what IFRS-16 brings to the table, its objective and most importantly its impact.

Understanding the Concept

In the present financial set-up of our economy and business environment, “Lease” is an indispensable element. With the advantages it carries and the flexibility it has provided to financing, the concept of lease has penetrated to every strata of being. However, from an accounting perspective, the nexus of “lease” with “assets” makes it essential to understand the procedure of incorporating the lease transactions in the books of both the lessor (legal owner of the asset) and the lessee (user of the asset); and, IFRS-16 is the answer.

While it does not modify the accounting treatment in the books of the lessors from that laid down in IAS 17, IFRS-16 introduces a single lessee accounting model and requires a lessee to recognise assets and liabilities for all leases with a term of more than 12 months, unless the underlying asset is of low value. A lessee is required to recognise a right-of-use asset representing its right to use the underlying leased asset and a lease liability representing its obligation to make lease payments.

To understand better, let us now take an illustration:

Illustration 1:

A is the legal owner of a car. B, a small businessman, intends to take the car on lease for a period of 3 years. Here, A becomes the Lessor, and B, steps into the shoes of a Lessee. Now that B has the right to use the car, he must identify this car as a right-to-use asset, more colloquially knows as RTU Asset.

Hence, the Lessee records the car along with other non-financial assets like property, plant and building, and the lease liabilities along with other liabilities. It is pertinent to note that the RTU asset must however, be recorded at its present value, arrived at by discounting at its Internal Rate of Return (IRR). As a result, the lessee also recognises depreciation of the RTU Asset and interest on the lease liability in its Statement of Profit and Loss.

Rationale behind IFRS-16:

By what can be called the “5 Rule Check”, IAS 17, distinguishes leases into two broad classesviz. Operational and Financial Leases. While the leased assets wererecorded in the books of the lessor, in case of both operational and financial leases; as per IAS 17, an operational lease in the books of a lessee was treated as an “off-balance sheet” item. Regards the objective with which the new standard was introduced, IASB Chairman, Mr. Hans Hoogervorst, said that “These new accounting requirements bring lease accounting into the 21st century, ending the guesswork involved when calculating a company’s often-substantial lease obligation. The new standard will provide much-needed transparency on companies’ lease assets and liabilities, meaning that off balance sheet lease financing is no longer lurking in the shadows. It will also improve comparability between companies that lease and those that borrow to buy.

Hence, it is clearly a step towards IASB’s vision of transparency, accountability and efficiency.

Impact:

Put simply, IFRS 16 eliminates the distinction between operational and financial lease in the books of a lessee. We shall now analyse its impact in the real field and compare the outcome with the expectations.

Overall Impact:

On the surface, the accounting treatment will have a knock-off effect on financial elements; for instance, Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation & Amortization (EBITDA) and Profit After Tax (PAT).

Let us understand this effect with the help of an illustration:

Illustration 2:

A Ltd., an aviation company, has taken on lease, aircrafts worth Rs. 1000 crore, having residual value (RV) 20%, for 36 months, @ 12% p.a., having revenue of Rs. 15,000 crore

On the basis of the above information, we get the following:

  • Lease Rental p.a. : Rs. 342.86 crores
  • Right to Use Asset (RTU) : Rs. 860.22 crores
  • Depreciation on RTU Asset (on SLM Basis) : Rs. 286.74 crores
  • Annual Interest @ 12% p.a. : Rs. 89.59 crores

Now let us compare the impact of the accounting treatment under IAS 17 vs. IFRS 16:

Note: Unlike IFRS-16, under IAS 17, the entire operating lease transaction remains to be an off-balance sheet transaction. Under IFRS 16, the RTU less depreciation is recorded under the assets side vis-à-vis. Lease payables under the liabilities head.

Hence, as evident from the above illustration, sum towards rentals (fixed cost) under IAS 17, have now been substituted with Interest obligation under IFRS 16, and as such the EBIDTA is higher in the initial years. Further, recording the asset at RTU value also gives way for depreciation, and hence, as a result of depreciation along with interest, the PBT reduces in the initial years. From a bird’s eye view, both the assets and liabilities of the lessees adopting IFRS 16 will increase.

Re-negotiation of Loan Covenants:

Further, now that the lease assets are to be recorded, it will typically result in companies appearing to be more debt leveraged; however, since leases are most likely on the operating transaction side vis-à-vis loan transactions, this is not the true picture. This pseudo-presence of huge liabilities is also likely to take a toll on the lessee’s credit rating. Hence, formal communication with the lenders will become a matter of concern, and a sound two-way communication and transparency with the lenders will be the key to managing the transition from IAS 17 to IFRS 16, smooth and efficient.

Industry-wise Impact:

With the first quarter of F.Y. 2019-20 embarking the first quarter of implementation of IFRS 16, the author makes a humble attempt to study the impact, on the basis of financial results declared by several industry-majors.

BPM Industry-

According to a study by Cushman & Wakefield in June 2019, the Indian markets show a strong presence in office space leasing. It has also been observed that the IT-BPM sector, has a higher share in office lease activities, as compared to its contemporaries. Hence, it is evident that the “leasing” is an essential element in the BPM industry.

As the Mumbai-based BPM giant, WNS Global announced its first quarter results; we observe that while the operating profit increased as a result of IFRS 16, the profit for the quarter has decreased. This increase in the operating margins comes to picture as fixed costs reduce with interests of lease payments replace the rentals; the counter result of which is the increase in finance costs due to which the ultimate profit dips.

It is said that the three objectives of any business is Survival, Profit and then Growth. However, as may be seen from above, application of IFRS 16 has led to fall in the profit. It is apprehended that the fall in profit may hold back companies, in the BPM sector from continuing office-space leasing.

Aviation Industry-

Ever imagined that the airplanes we fly in, are most likely not even present on the company’s balance sheet? This non-appearance in the balance sheets was the outcome of accounting standards laid down under IAS 17. However, with IFRS 16 in the picture, the new financial year will be different from previous fiscals, especially for the aviation industry, as they now have to record all lease transactions in their books.

Adopting IAS 116, the Indian counterpart of IFRS 16, the airline industries now have to capitalise operating leases as RTU assets. While recording lease transactions and its by-products like interest, depreciation, the impact will majorly depend on factors like

  • Proportion of operating lease in the overall asset pool;
  • Duration of leases.

With leasing forming an indispensable element of airline companies, even though accounting should not be the key driver in commercial negotiations, market behaviour might change towards shorter lease tenures to minimize lease liabilities.

Owing to the fall in profits in the initial years, it is expected that there might be fall in operating leases, and sale & lease-back arrangements, which will prompt the airlines to purchase more aircrafts. Mr. Wui Jin Woon, Head of Aviation, Asia Pacific, Natixis CIB, also said that “Airline with sufficient access to liquidity may be more incline to purchase now that there is no difference from an accounting perspective between operating and finance leases.

However, adopting IAS 116, the Indian counterpart of IFRS 16, the airline industry major, IndiGo stated that while there might be changes in the future reported profits, which may necessitate a change in current P/E based valuation methodology, it will not impact IndiGo’s cash profits, cash flows and growth strategy.

Hence, while there is broad consensus on how the standard will affect various financial metrics, there is considerably less agreement on how it might influence operating decisions and market sentiments.

Communication Industry:

Most Communications companies enter into lease agreements both as lessors and lessees, as such, leases in the industry are prevalent. The new standard is likely therefore to have a material impact for Communications companies.

Arrangements which may contain leases could include – customer contracts for using identified network or infrastructure equipment, equipment provided to customers through which the operator delivers communication services such as set top boxes and modems, and data centre services etc.

As a consequence of IFRS 16, the potential business impact could include renegotiation of network development and network sharing agreements. Further, companies already having large asset bases, may be prey to the impairment risk with the addition of further assets in the balance sheet.

Automobile Industry

(a) Corporate Car Leasing

Corporate Car Leasing is a very innovative employee benefit scheme that has cropped up off late. Under this scheme, big corporates provide its employees, car taken on operational lease, which the end of tenure is sold to the employee at a nominal value.Hence, while the car is essentially for the benefit of the employees, the company is the actual lessee. As this set up was in the nature of an operating lease, the lessee, as per IAS 17, was not required to record the car in its balance sheet.

However, will the roll in of IFRS 16, the corporates will be required to record these cars at their RTU as assets and a corresponding lease liability in their books; as a result of which, the balance sheet of the corporate shall increase manifold.

(b) Fleet Management

In the Fleet Management market, leasing, especially operating lease has proven to be a smart move to optimise its costs and maintain adequate ratios, as until now, it was not required to be recognized in the balance sheet of the lessee.

Murray Price, managing director of EQSTRA Fleet Management said, “These include the impact on the company’s financial report, key ratios, disclosures, the cost of implementation, the ability to access desired information, the impact of covenants and debt renegotiations and leasing strategies.

This magnification of balance sheet, by virtue of change in accounting policies is anticipated to be detrimental to this industry. It is expected that this will hold back corporates from entering into such arrangements.

Change in the Lessors’ Approach:

Like every action has a reaction, even though IFRS 16 does not essentially alter or modify accounting methodologies adopted by the lessors,  the lessors may be impacted in their business models due to change in lessees’ behaviour. From the foregoing, a common thread that can be observed is that lessees having better liquidity, will now tend to incline towards purchasing the assets rather than leasing, as such, lessors may be required to revaluate the current portfolio of leases and prospective targets to identify lessees that may seek to alter their strategies as a result of IFRS-16.

Global Scenario:

Moving ahead from the industry wise acceptance, we shall now see how the new standard has been welcomed at the global level.While India has come up with IAS 116, drawn on the same lines and principles as IFRS 16, the United stated shall continue to follow ASC 842, dealing with the same subject.

Further, barring variances in implementation due to local regulatory requirements, IFRS 16 has been relatively consistently adopted in most of the Asia-Pacific markets. In Hong Kong, for example, most companies have a December financial year-end and submit financial statements to in around August in the following year. IFRS 16 impacts may become more apparent when listed companies release interim results in July 2019.

In Australia, most year-ends are in June, so some companies will not technically need to grapple with IFRS 16 until the second half of 2019.Similar patterns are evident in Singapore, Malaysia, India and the Philippines, where common accounting periods and reporting practices mean many companies won’t have to address IFRS 16 until later in the year.

The equivalent standards in Thailand and Indonesia are not effective until January 2020. In China, the Ministry of Finance only released the local version of the standard in December 2018, giving non-listed companies up to 2021 to adopt.

Conclusion:

Given the gravitas and indispensable presence of leases and the fact that it resides on such a large scale ground, to judge with certainty, the impact of IFRS 16 certainly requires more time. The dust around the same has not settled yet, hence one can say the picture is not yet vivid; however, it surely sets up the pace for what might unveil in days to come.