NBFCs in troubled waters as Madras Court Bench rules in favour of RBI

The latest judgement by the Madras HC as on 22nd April, 2019 has set aside an earlier single judge order in January this year, and ruled in favour of RBI. RBI argued that there was an appeal remedy available and the companies instead of filing writ petitions with the court could have approached the appellate authority.

However before citing the details of the present judgement, this writer believes a firm background is required to grasp the gravity of the present situation. The reader may feel free to scroll further down, if acquainted with the January single-judge decision beforehand.

Background

Since the Sarada scam in 2015, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had been on high alert and had been subsequently tightening regulations for NBFCs, micro-finance firms and such other companies which provide informal banking services. As of December 2015, over 56 NBFC licenses were cancelled[1]. However, recently in light of the uncertain credit environment (recall DHFL and IF&LS) among other reasons, RBI has cancelled around 400 licenses [2]in 2018 primarily due to a shortfall in Net Owned Funds (NOF)[3] among other reasons. The joint entry of the Central Govt. regulators and RBI to calm the volatility in the markets on September 21st, 2018 after an intra-day fall of over 1000 points amid default concerns of DHFL, warranted concern. Had it been two isolated incidents the regulators and Union government would have been unlikely to step in. The RBI & SEBI issued a joint statement on September saying they were prepared to step in if market volatility demanded such a situation. This suggests a situation which is more than what meets the eye.

Coming back to NBFCs, over half of the cancelled NBFC licenses in 2018 could be attributed to shortfall in NOFs. NOF is described in Section 45 IA of the RBI Act, 1934. It defines NOF as:

1) “Net owned fund” means–
(a) The aggregate of the paid-up equity capital and free reserves as disclosed in the latest
Balance sheet of the company after deducting therefrom–
(i) Accumulated balance of loss;
(ii) Deferred revenue expenditure; and

(iii) Other intangible assets; and
(b) Further reduced by the amounts representing–
(1) Investments of such company in shares of–
(i) Its subsidiaries;
(ii) Companies in the same group;
(iii) All other non-banking financial companies; and
(2) The book value of debentures, bonds, outstanding loans and advances
(including hire-purchase and lease finance) made to, and deposits with,–
(i) Subsidiaries of such company; and
(ii) Companies in the same group, to the extent such amount exceeds ten per cent of (a) above.

At present, the threshold amount that has to be maintained is stipulated at 2 crore, from the previous minimum of 25 lakhs. Previously, to meet this requirement of Rs. 25 lakh a time period of three years was given. During this tenure, NBFCs were allowed to carry on business irrespective of them not meeting business conditions. Moreover, this period could be extended by a further 3 years, which should not exceed 6 years in aggregate. However, this can only be done after stating the reason in writing and this extension is in complete discretion of the RBI. The failure to maintain this threshold amount within the stipulated time had led to this spurge of license cancellations in 2018.

However, the Madras High Court judgement dated 29-1-2019 came as a big relief to over 2000 NBFCs whose license had been cancelled due a delay in fulfilling the shortfall.

 

THE JUDGEMENT

The regulations

On 27-3-2015 the RBI by notification No. DNBR.007/CGM(CDS)-2015 specified two hundred lakhs rupees as the NOF required for an NBFC to commence or carry on the business. It further stated that an NBFC holding a CoR and having less than two hundred lakh rupees may continue to carry on the business, if such a company achieves the NOF of one hundred lakh rupees before 1-04-2016 and two hundred lakhs of rupees before 1-04-2017.

The Petitioner’s claim

The petition was filed by 4 NBFCs namely Nahar Finance & Leasing Ltd., Lodha Finance India Ltd., Valluvar Development Finance Pvt. Ltd. and Senthil Finance Pvt. Ltd. for the cancellation of Certificate of Registration (CoR) against the RBI. The petitioners claim that they had been complying with all the statutory regulations and regularly filing various returns and furnishing the required information to the Registrar of Companies. These petitions were in response to the RBI issued Show Cause Notices to the petitioners proposing to cancel the CoR and initiate penal action. The said SCNs were responded to by the petitioners contending that they had NOF of Rs.104.50 lakhs, Rs.34.19 lakhs, Rs.79.50 lakhs and Rs.135 lakhs respectively, as on 31.03.2017.

Valluvar Development Finance also sent a reply stating that they had achieved the required NOF on 23-10-2017, attaching a certificate from the Statutory Auditor to support its claim. The other petitioners however submitted that due to significant change in the economy including the policies of the Govt. of India during the fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18 like de-monetization and implementation of Goods & Services Tax, the entire working of the finance sector was impaired and as such sought extension of time till 31-03-2019 to comply with the requirements.

Now despite seeking extension of time, having given explanations to the SCNs, the CoRs were cancelled without an opportunity for the NBFCs to be heard.

 

The Decision

It was argued that there is a remedy provided against the cancellation of the CoRs, the petitioners had chosen to invoke Article 226 contending violation of the principles of justice. The proviso to Section 45-IA(6) relates to the contentions in regards to cancellation of the CoRs.

“45-IA. Requirement of registration and net owned fund –

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), a non-banking financial company in existence on the commencement of the Reserve Bank of India (Amendment) Act, 1997 and having a net owned fund of less than twenty five lakh rupees may, for the purpose of enabling such company to fulfil the requirement of the net owned fund, continue to carry on the business of a nonbanking financial institution–

(i) for a period of three years from such commencement; or

(ii) for such further period as the Bank may, after recording the reasons in writing for so doing, extend,

subject to the condition that such company shall, within three months of fulfilling the requirement of the net owned fund, inform the Bank about such fulfilment:

Provided further that before making any order of cancellation of certificate of registration, such company shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

(7) A company aggrieved by the order of rejection of application for registration or cancellation of certificate of registration may prefer an appeal, within a period of thirty days from the date on which such order of rejection or cancellation is communicated to it, to the Central Government and the decision of the Central Government where an appeal has been preferred to it, or of the Bank where no appeal has been preferred, shall be final:

Provided that before making any order of rejection of appeal, such company shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

The decision was taken on two grounds. First, the statute specifically provides for an opportunity of personal hearing besides calling for an explanation. The amended provision is very particular that opportunity of being personally heard is mandatory, as the very amendment relates to finance companies, which are already carrying on business also. Not affording this opportunity would cripple the business of the petitioners.

Second, the amended section provides NBFCs sufficient time to enhance their NOF by carrying on business and comply with the notifications. For the aforesaid reasons, the orders by the RBI requires interference. Resultantly, the respondents (RBI authorities) are directed to restore the CoR of the petitioners and also extend the time given to the petitioners.

 

The Latest Judgement

The judgement pronounced as on 22nd April, 2019 was an appeal by the RBI to the aforementioned writ petitions. This latest decision which ruled in favour of the RBI had contentions on several grounds. However, all of them stem (invocation of sub-clauses) from the following four.

First, the RBI against the order in the writ petitions submitted that there is an appeal remedy available and the petitioners without availing such remedy have filed the petitions and as such petitions ought not to have been entertained.

Second that there were only four such companies (the ones above) who sought writ petitions and the remaining numbering more than 40 Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) have filed statutory appeals and therefore, the petitioners should be relegated to avail the appeal remedy.

Third, the present cancellation is owed to the petitioners’ failure to comply with the NOF conditions issued by the RBI. The notification dated 27.03.2015 specifying 200 lakhs as NOF for NBFCs to carry or commence operations has not been challenged by the petitioners. Therefore, if they do not achieved the said conditions, they cannot to continue to remain in business.

Fourth, it was submitted that the reasons assigned by the petitioners in the reply to the show cause notice were considered and the reasons not being sustainable were thus rejected.

 

Conclusion

This was a landmark hearing in the case of NBFCs with increasing pressure as of recent times. Many NBFCs may now apply for restoration of their licenses as per the present laws or file for statutory appeals. The case stands as an indication of the firm regulatory policies of the RBI amidst the environment of credit uncertainty. The last statement of the judgement also stands apt here. The brief sentence read, “Consequently connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.”

[1] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/finance/rbi-cancels-license-of-56-nbfcs-bajaj-finserv-gives-away-license/articleshow/50045835.cms?from=mdr

[2] https://www.businessinsider.in/indias-central-bank-has-scrapped-the-licenses-of-nearly-400-nbfcs-so-far-this-year/articleshow/65698193.cms

[3] https://www.firstpost.com/business/ilfs-dhfl-shocks-may-be-temporary-triggers-but-the-bad-news-for-indian-financial-markets-do-not-end-there-5248071.html

[4] https://enterslice.com/learning/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Madras-high-court-Judgement-on-NBFC-License-Cancellation.pdf

[5] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/91785347/

NBFCs get another chance to reinstate NOF

By Falak Dutta, (finserv@vinodkothari.com)

Since the Sarada scam in 2015, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had been on high alert and had been subsequently tightening regulations for NBFCs, micro-finance firms and such other companies which provide informal banking services. As of December 2015, over 56 NBFC licenses were cancelled[1]. However, recently in light of the uncertain credit environment (recall DHFL and IF&LS) among other reasons, RBI has cancelled around 400 licenses [2]in 2018 primarily due to a shortfall in Net Owned Funds (NOF)[3] among other reasons. The joint entry of the Central Govt. regulators and RBI to calm the volatility in the markets on September 21st, 2018 after an intra-day fall of over 1000 points amid default concerns of DHFL warrants concern. Had it been two isolated incidents the regulators and Union government would have been unlikely to step in. The RBI & SEBI issued a joint statement on September saying they were prepared to step in if market volatility warrants such a situation. This suggests a situation which is more than what meets the eye.

Coming back to NBFCs, over half of the cancelled NBFC licenses in 2018 could be attributed to shortfall in NOFs. NOF is described in Section 45 IA of the RBI Act, 1934. It defines NOF as:

1) “Net owned fund” means–

(a) The aggregate of the paid-up equity capital and free reserves as disclosed in the latest

Balance sheet of the company after deducting therefrom–

(i) Accumulated balance of loss;

(ii) Deferred revenue expenditure; and

(iii) Other intangible assets; and

(b) Further reduced by the amounts representing–

(1) Investments of such company in shares of–

(i) Its subsidiaries;

(ii) Companies in the same group;

(iii) All other non-banking financial companies; and

(2) The book value of debentures, bonds, outstanding loans and advances

(including hire-purchase and lease finance) made to, and deposits with,–

(i) Subsidiaries of such company; and

(ii) Companies in the same group, to the extent such amount exceeds ten per cent of (a) above.

At present, the threshold amount that has to be maintained is stipulated at 2 crore, from the previous minimum of 25 lakhs. Previously, to meet this requirement of Rs. 25 lakh a time period of three years was given. During this tenure, NBFCs were allowed to carry on business irrespective of them not meeting business conditions. Moreover, this period could be extended by a further 3 years, which should not exceed 6 years in aggregate. However, this can only be done after stating the reason in writing and this extension is in complete discretion of the RBI. The failure to maintain this threshold amount within the stipulated time had led to this spurge of license cancellations in 2018.

However, the Madras High Court judgement dated 29-1-2019 came as a big relief to over 2000 NBFCs whose license had been cancelled due a delay in fulfilling the shortfall.

 

THE JUDGEMENT[4]

The regulations

On 27-3-2015 the RBI by notification No. DNBR.007/CGM(CDS)-2015 specified two hundred lakhs rupees as the NOF required for an NBFC to commence or carry on the business. It further stated that an NBFC holding a CoR and having less than two hundred lakh rupees may continue to carry on the business, if such a company achieves the NOF of one hundred lakh rupees before 1-04-2016 and two hundred lakhs of rupees before 1-04-2017.

The Petitioner’s claim

The petition was filed by 4 NBFCs namely Nahar Finance & Leasing Ltd., Lodha Finance India Ltd., Valluvar Development Finance Pvt. Ltd. and Senthil Finance Pvt. Ltd. for the cancellation of CoR[5] against the RBI. The petitioners claim that they had been complying with all the statutory regulations and regularly filing various returns and furnishing the required information to the Registrar of Companies. These petitions were in response to the RBI issued Show Cause Notices to the petitioners proposing to cancel the CoR and initiate penal action. The said SCNs were responded to by the petitioners contending that they had NOF of Rs.104.50 lakhs, Rs.34.19 lakhs, Rs.79.50 lakhs and Rs.135 lakhs respectively, as on 31.03.2017.

Valluvar Development Finance also sent a reply stating that they had achieved the required NOF on 23-10-2017, attaching a certificate from the Statutory Auditor to support its claim. The other petitioners however submitted that due to significant change in the economy including the policies of the Govt. of India during the fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18 like de-monetization and implementation of Goods & Services Tax, the entire working of the finance sector was impaired and as such sought extension of time till 31-03-2019 to comply with the requirements.

Now despite seeking extension of time, having given explanations to the SCNs, the CoRs were cancelled without an opportunity for the NBFCs to be heard.

 

The Decision

It was argued that there is a remedy provided against the cancellation of the CoRs, the petitioners had chosen to invoke Article 226 contending violation of the principles of justice. The proviso to Section 45-IA(6) relates to the contentions in regards to cancellation of the CoRs.

“45-IA. Requirement of registration and net owned fund –

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), a non-banking financial company in existence on the commencement of the Reserve Bank of India (Amendment) Act, 1997 and having a net owned fund of less than twenty five lakhs rupees may, for the purpose of enabling such company to fulfill the requirement of the net owned fund, continue to carry on the business of a non-banking financial institution–

(i) for a period of three years from such commencement; or

(ii) for such further period as the Bank may, after recording the reasons in writing for so doing, extend,

subject to the condition that such company shall, within three months of fulfilling the requirement of the net owned fund, inform the Bank about such fulfillment:

Provided further that before making any order of cancellation of certificate of registration, such company shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

(7) A company aggrieved by the order of rejection of application for registration or cancellation of certificate of registration may prefer an appeal, within a period of thirty days from the date on which such order of rejection or cancellation is communicated to it, to the Central Government and the decision of the Central Government where an appeal has been preferred to it, or of the Bank where no appeal has been preferred, shall be final:

Provided that before making any order of rejection of appeal, such company shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

The decision was taken on two grounds. First, the statute specifically provides for an opportunity of personal hearing besides calling for an explanation. The amended provision is very particular that opportunity of being personally heard is mandatory, as the very amendment relates to finance companies, which are already carrying on business also. Not affording this opportunity would cripple the business of the petitioners.

Second, the amended section provides NBFCs sufficient time to enhance their NOF by carrying on business and comply with the notifications. For the aforesaid reasons, the orders by the RBI requires interference. Resultantly, the respondents (RBI authorities) are directed to restore the CoR of the petitioners and also extend the time given to the petitioners.

 

CONCLUSION

This was a landmark hearing in the case of NBFCs as they had been under increasing pressure as of recent times. Many NBFCs can now apply for restoration of their licenses and might already have. The case doesn’t just stand the case for NOF conflicts but will also ring in the minds of regulators in the future, compelling greater caution and concern. The last statement of the judgement stands apt here. The brief sentence read,” Consequently connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.”

[1] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/finance/rbi-cancels-license-of-56-nbfcs-bajaj-finserv-gives-away-license/articleshow/50045835.cms?from=mdr

[2] https://www.businessinsider.in/indias-central-bank-has-scrapped-the-licenses-of-nearly-400-nbfcs-so-far-this-year/articleshow/65698193.cms

[3] https://www.firstpost.com/business/ilfs-dhfl-shocks-may-be-temporary-triggers-but-the-bad-news-for-indian-financial-markets-do-not-end-there-5248071.html

[4] https://enterslice.com/learning/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Madras-high-court-Judgement-on-NBFC-License-Cancellation.pdf

[5] Certificate of Registration

Extension of Ombudsman Scheme to remaining class of notified NBFCs

By Dibisha Mishra (dibisha@vinodkothari.com)

Updated as on April 26, 2019

Introduction

Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in its Statement on Development and Regulatory Policies[1] dated April 04, 2019, stated its intention to extend the same to the remaining notified classes of NBFCs as well, by the end of April, 2019.

Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, 2018 (Scheme) on 23rd February, 2018[2] was introduced with the intent of curbing down the time, costs and complexities involved in complaint redressal mechanism for certain services rendered by non-banking financial companies (NBFC). The salient features of the Scheme worth taking note of has been explained in our previous article.[3] The Scheme covered within its ambit, all NBFCs registered with RBI, who are:

  • authorized to accept deposits; or
  • having customer interface, with assets size of Rs. 100 Crores or above, as on the date of the audited balance sheet of the previous financial year,

(hereinafter referred to as “notified classes of NBFCs”)

However, to start with, the Scheme was made applicable to deposit taking NBFCs only and the idea was to make it applicable on the other notified classes of NBFCs, once the same could gather some traction.

Subsequently, as per RBI’s recent statement in regard to increased applicability, a formal notification in this regard was expected to follow. The aforesaid has finally been notified vide. RBI’s notification dated April 26, 2019[4].

Considering the importance of the matter, in this article we will discuss all that the remaining notified classes of NBFCs must prepare for.

Applicability

As already stated the Scheme is applicable to all notified classes of NBFCs, however, the following classes of companies are excluded from its purview:

  • Non-banking Financial Company – Infrastructure Finance Company (NBFC-IFC);
  • Core Investment Company (CIC);
  • Infrastructure Debt Fund – Non-banking Financial Company (IDF-NBFC); and
  • A company under liquidation.

To do list for newly included entities

Upon notification of Scheme, the newly notified NBFCs will have to immediately take care of the following:

  1. Make the copy of the Scheme available on the website and also with the designated officer of the company for perusal in the office premises.
  2. Display prominently in all its offices and branches:
  • the purpose of the Scheme;
  • the contact details of the Ombudsman to whom the complaint is to be made by the aggrieved customer;
  • notice about the availability of the copy of Scheme with such designated officer.
  1.  Appoint Nodal Officers at Head/ Registered/ Regional/ Zonal Offices and inform all the Offices of the Ombudsman about the same.
  2. Nodal Officers so appointed must be responsible for representing the company and furnishing information to the Ombudsman in respect of complaints filed against the NBFC.
  3. Wherever more than one zone/ region of a NBFC is falling within the jurisdiction of an Ombudsman, designate one of the Nodal Officers as the ‘Principal Nodal Officer’ for such zones or regions

Pre-Conditions for availing the Scheme by an aggrieved customer

A customer aggrieved by the acts of the company or its representatives can make an application under the Scheme, however, the following pre-conditions must be satisfied before making an application:

  1. Complaint must refer to any of the grounds mentioned under Clause 8 of the Scheme.
  2. Customer must have filed a written representation to the respective NBFC regarding the grievance
  3. Concerned NBFC must have rejected the complaint or the complainant must not have received any reply within one month of NBFC receiving the representation or the complainant must not have been satisfied with the reply given to him by the NBFC.
  4. Not more than one year must have elapsed after the complainant received the unsatisfactory reply or where no reply was received, not later than one year and one month have elapsed after the date of representation to NBFC.
  5. The complaint must not be in respect of the same cause of action which was settled or dealt with on merits by the Ombudsman in any previous proceedings whether or not received from the same complainant or along with one or more complainants or one or more of the parties concerned with the cause of action;
  6. The complaint must not pertain to the same cause of action, for which any proceedings before any court, tribunal or arbitrator or any other forum is pending or a decree or Award or order has been passed by any such court, tribunal, arbitrator or forum;
  7. The complaint must not be frivolous or vexatious in nature;
  8. The complaint must fall under the period of limitation prescribed under the Indian Limitation Act, 1963 for such claims; and
  9. The complainant must have filed along with the complaint, copies of the documents, if any, which he intends to rely upon, and a declaration that the complaint is maintainable under Clause 9-A.

Roadmap while availing the Scheme

Once the complainant is satisfied that the aforesaid conditions are satisfied, it will have to take the following route to make the application:

  1. Make a complaint, as per Annex II of the Scheme, to the Ombudsman under whose jurisdiction the concerned NBFC falls. The complaint can be made either by the aggrieved customer himself or by his authorized representative;
  2. Where extra clarification or documents is required from the customer, the same is to be provided;
  3. Ombudsman shall send a copy of the complaint to the branch or registered office of the NBFC named in the complaint, under advice to the designated Nodal Officer (NO);
  4. Ombudsman may require NBFC to provide information or furnish certified copies of any document relating to the complaint which is or is alleged to be in its possession;
  5. Endeavour should be made to promote a settlement of the complaint by agreement between the complainant and the NBFC through conciliation or mediation. He/ she may convene a meeting of NBFC and the complainant together to promote an amicable resolution;
  6. If complaint is still not settled by agreement, Ombudsman shall pass an award of either allowing or rejecting the case after giving both parties an opportunity of being heard;
  7. The Ombudsman shall take into account the evidence being placed, the underlying principles on which the practices, directions, instructions and guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank from time to time and such other factors which in his opinion are relevant to the complaint;
  8. A copy of the Award shall be sent to the complainant and the NBFC free of cost;
  9. An Award shall take effect only when the complainant furnishes to the NBFC and the Ombudsman concerned within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of copy of the Award, a letter of acceptance of the Award in full and final settlement of his claim;
  10. Unless an appeal is filed, the NBFC shall then comply with the Award and intimate compliance of the same to the complainant and the Ombudsman;
  11. Award or appeal rejection can be appealed against within 30 days of receipt of such communication.

Conclusion

The Ombudsman scheme plays a very important role in the banking system. Considering the growing importance of NBFCs in the country, introduction of this became essential. However, effectiveness of any initiative depends on how well the beneficiaries of the same are informed; same will be the case with this Scheme as well. This Scheme will turn out to be fruitful only if the same borrowers are educated about this. RBI must also take some initiative to achieve that as well

[1] https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR23654E42140EAC6347D1A9D08AF62F5BF2E9.PDF

[2] https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/Content/PDFs/NBFC23022018.pdf

[3] http://vinodkothari.com/2018/02/rbis-ombudsman-storm-tough-road-ahead-for-nbfcs/

[4] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11546&Mode=0

Should OCI be included as a part of Tier I capital for financial institutions?

India has been adopted International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in the form of Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS) in a phased manner since 2016. Different implementation schedules have been issued by different regulatory authorities for different classes of companies and they are:

  • Ministry of Corporate Affairs –
    • For non-banking non-financial companies – Implementation schedule started from 1st April, 2016
    • For non-banking financial companies – Implementation schedule started from 1st April, 2018
  • Reserve Bank of India –
    • For banking companies – The original scheduled start date was 1st April, 2018, subsequently, it was shifted to 1st April, 2019. However, a recent notification from the RBI has shifted the implementation schedule indefinitely.[1]
  • Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India –
    • For insurance companies – The implementation schedule starts from 1st April, 2020.

Consequent upon implementation of IFRS, it is logical that the regulatory framework for financial institutions will also require modifications to bring it in line with the provisions requirements under the new standards.

Though the Ind AS already been implemented in the NBFC sector, no modifications in the existing regulations have been made. Consequently, this has led to the creation of several ambiguities; and one such is regarding treatment of the Other Comprehensive Income (OCI), as per Ind AS 109, for the purpose of computing Tier 1 capital.

This write up will solely focus on the issue relating to treatment of OCI for the purpose of Tier 1 capital.

Other Comprehensive Income (OCI)

Before delving further into specifics, let us have a quick recap of the concept of the OCI. The format of income reporting under Ind AS has undergone a significant change. Under Ind AS, the statement of profit or loss gives us Total Comprehensive Income which consists of a) profit or loss for the period and b) OCI. While the first component represents the profit or loss earned by the reporting entity during the financial year, OCI represents unrealized gains or losses from financial assets of the reporting entity.  

The intention of showing OCI in the books of the accounts, is that it protects the gains/losses of companies from oscillation. As the fair values of assets and liabilities fluctuate with the market, parking the unrealized gains in the OCI and not in the P/L account provides stability. In addition to investment and pension plan gains and losses, OCI also captures that the hedging transactions undertaken by the company. By segregating OCI transactions from operating income, a financial statement reader can compare income between years and have more clarity about the sources of income.

While profit or loss earned during the year forms part of the surplus or other reserves in the balance sheet, OCI is shown separately under the Equity segment of the balance sheet.

Capital Risk Adequacy Ratio

Moving on to the meaning of capital risk adequacy ratio (CRAR), it is a measurement of a bank’s available capital expressed as a percentage of a bank’s risk-weighted credit exposures. The CRAR is used to protect creditors and promote the stability and efficiency of financial institutions. This in turn results in providing protection against insolvency. Two types of capital are measured: Tier-I capital, which can absorb losses without a bank being required to cease trading, and Tier-II capital, which can absorb losses in the event of a winding-up and so provides a lesser degree of protection to depositors.

The concept of CRAR comes from the Basel framework laid down by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), a division of Bank of International Settlement. The latest framework being followed worldwide is Basel III framework.

RBI has also adopted the Basel framework, however, with modifications to suit the economic environment in the country. The CRAR requirements have been made applicable to banks as well as NBFCs, however, the requirements vary. While banks are required to maintain 9% CRAR, NBFCs are required to maintain 15% CRAR.

To understand whether OCI should form part of CRAR, it is important to understand the components of CRAR.

Components of Tier I and II Capital as per RBI Master Directions[2] for NBFCs

For the purpose of this write-up, requirements have been examined only from the point of view of NBFCs, as Ind AS is yet to be implemented for banking companies.

CRAR comprises of two parts – Tier I capital and Tier II capital. Each of the two have been defined in the Master Directions issued by the RBI, in the following manner:

(xxxii) “Tier I Capital” means owned fund as reduced by investment in shares of other non-banking financial companies and in shares, debentures, bonds, outstanding loans and advances including hire purchase and lease finance made to and deposits with subsidiaries and companies in the same group exceeding, in the aggregate, ten percent of the owned fund; and perpetual debt instruments issued by a non-deposit taking non-banking financial company in each year to the extent it does not exceed 15% of the aggregate Tier I Capital of such companies as on March 31 of the previous accounting year;

The term “owned funds” have been defined as:

“owned fund” means paid up equity capital, preference shares which are 9 compulsorily convertible into equity, free reserves, balance in share premium account and capital reserves representing surplus arising out of sale proceeds of asset, excluding reserves created by revaluation of asset, as reduced by accumulated loss balance, book value of intangible assets and deferred revenue expenditure, if any;

Tier II capital has been defined as:

(xxxiii) “Tier II capital” includes the following:

  • preference shares other than those which are compulsorily convertible into equity;
  • revaluation reserves at discounted rate of fifty five percent;
  • General provisions (including that for Standard Assets) and loss reserves to the extent these are not attributable to actual diminution in value or identifiable potential loss in any specific asset and are available to meet unexpected losses, to the extent of one and one fourth percent of risk weighted assets;
  • hybrid debt capital instruments;
  • subordinated debt; and
  • perpetual debt instruments issued by a non-deposit taking non-banking financial company which is in excess of what qualifies for Tier I Capital, to the extent the aggregate does not exceed Tier I capital.

The above definitions of Tier I and II capital do not talk about OCI. However, the Directions were prepared before the implementation of Ind AS 109 and no clarity on the subject has come from RBI post implementation of Ind AS 109.

Therefore, for determining whether OCI should be made a part of Tier I or Tier II capital, we can draw reference from Basel III framework.

Components of Tier I capital as per Basel III framework [3]

As per Para 52 of the framework, the Tier I capital consists of:

Common Equity Tier 1 capital consists of the sum of the following elements:

  • Common shares issued by the bank that meet the criteria for classification as common shares for regulatory purposes (or the equivalent for non-joint stock companies);
  • Stock surplus (share premium) resulting from the issue of instruments included Common Equity Tier 1;
  • Retained earnings;
  • Accumulated other comprehensive income and other disclosed reserves;
  • Common shares issued by consolidated subsidiaries of the bank and held by third parties (ie minority interest) that meet the criteria for inclusion in Common Equity Tier 1 capital. See section 4 for the relevant criteria; and
  • Regulatory adjustments applied in the calculation of Common Equity Tier 1

Retained earnings and other comprehensive income include interim profit or loss. National authorities may consider appropriate audit, verification or review procedures. Dividends are removed from Common Equity Tier 1 in accordance with applicable accounting standards. The treatment of minority interest and the regulatory adjustments applied in the calculation of Common Equity Tier 1 are addressed in separate sections.

The Basel III norms clearly states that accumulated other comprehensive income forms a part of the Tier I capital.

It is very interesting to note that RBI had also adopted Basel III framework on July 1, 2015, however, the framework adopted and introduced is silent on the treatment of the OCI, unlike the original Basel III framework. The reason for the omission of the concept of OCI is that the framework was adopted in India way before Ind AS implementation and under the erstwhile IGAAP, there was no concept of OCI or booking of unrealized gains or losses in the books of accounts.

It is well understood that due to the very recent implementation of IndAS 109, the guidelines have not been revised in line with the IndAS. However, going by the spirit of Basel III regulation, this leaves us very little doubt what the treatment of OCI for the purpose of CRAR computation should be. Therefore, one can safely conclude that the OCI should form part of Tier I capital, unless, anything contrary is issued by the RBI subsequently.

[1] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11506&Mode=0

[2] https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/45MD01092016B52D6E12D49F411DB63F67F2344A4E09.PDF0

[3] https://www.bis.org/publ/bcbs189.pdf

Reprieve for banks and NBFCs

One-time restructuring of stressed MSME accounts

By Simran Jalan (simran@vinodkothari.com)

Introduction

The Non-Performing Asset (NPA) rates in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) segment have remained stable and range bound. In the Micro segment the NPA rate has moved from 8.9%[1] in March, 2017 to 8.8% in March, 2018. In SME segment, the NPA rate hovered between 11.4% in march, 2017 to 11.2% in March, 2018. Recognised NPA exposure for MSMEs is Rs. 81,000 crores as on March, 2018. While the growth in the NPA rate has moderated, it is too early to conclude that the NPA problem is close to bottoming out.

The RBI, in its board meeting held on November 19, 2018[2], was advised by the Board to consider a scheme of restructuring of stressed standard assets of MSME borrowers with aggregate credit facilities of up to Rs. 25 crores, subject to such conditions as are necessary for ensuring financial stability.

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Accounting for Direct Assignment under Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS)

By Team IFRS & Valuation Services (ifrs@vinodkothari.com) (finserv@vinodkothari.com)

Introduction

Direct assignment (DA) is a very popular way of achieving liquidity needs of an entity. With the motives of achieving off- balance sheet treatment accompanied by low cost of raising funds, financial sector entities enter into securitisation and direct assignment transactions involving sale of their loan portfolios. DA in the context of Indian securitisation practices involves sale of loan portfolios without the involvement of a special purpose vehicle, unlike securitisation, where setting up of an SPV is an imperative.

The term DA is unique to India, that is, only in Indian context we use the term DA for assignment of loan or lease portfolios to another entity like bank. Whereas, on a global level, a similar arrangements are known by various other names like loan sale, whole-loan sales or loan portfolio sale.

In India, the regulatory framework governing Das and securitisation transactions are laid down by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The guidelines for governing securitisation structures, often referred to as pass-through certificates route (PTCs) were issued for the first time in 2006, where the focus of the Guidelines was restricted to securitisation transactions only and direct assignments were nowhere in the picture. The RBI Guidelines were revised in 2012 to include provisions relating to direct assignment transactions.

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SEBI extends disclosure related exemption to eligible NBFCs & HFCs

-Amends Reg. 29 (4) of SAST Regulations, 2011 dealing with disclosures relating to pledge

By Simran Jalan (simran@vinodkothari.com)

SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (SAST Regulations) provides requirement in relation to manner of acquisition, takeover, disclosure requirements, acquisitions triggering open offer etc. It is a common phenomenon to pledge the shares of a listed entity as a security for availing of loan from Banks, financial institutions.

In line with the approval granted by SEBI in its Board meeting held on December 12, 2018[1] SEBI issued SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) (Third Amendment) Regulations, 2018[2] on December 28, 2018 (‘Amendment Regulations’) exempting certain class of NBFCs and HFCs from the requirement of disclosing acquisition (resulting from encumbrance) and disposal (resulting from release of encumbrance). This article discusses the impact of the said amendment.

The Amendment Regulations are effective from December 31, 2018.

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Anticipated boost in liquidity position of NBFCs and HFCs

By Vineet Ojha (vineet@vinodkothari.com)

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Gist of amended Schedule III of Companies Act, 2013