MPC meeting – New type of PPI and more

finserv@vinodkothari.com

The Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies[1] dated 05 December, 2019 has been issued by the RBI pursuant to the fifth bi-monthly Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

Some quick updates and highlights of regulatory changes are given below –

1) Review of NBFC-P2P Directions- Aggregate Lender Limit and escrow accounts

Current limit for borrowers and lenders across all P2P platforms is ₹10 lakh, and exposure of a single lender to a single borrower is – ₹50,000 across all NBFC-P2P platforms.

It has been decided that in order to give the next push to the lending platforms, the aggregate exposure of a lender to all borrowers at any point of time, across all P2P platforms, shall be subject to a cap of ₹50 lakh.

Further, it is also proposed to do away with the current requirement of escrow accounts to be operated by bank promoted trustee for transfer of funds having to be necessarily opened with the concerned bank. This will help provide more flexibility in operations. Necessary instructions in this regard will be issued shortly.

 

2)  The ‘On tap’ Licensing Guidelines for Small Finance Banks have now been finalised and are being issued today.

 

3)New Pre-Paid Payment Instruments (PPI) 

It is proposed to introduce a new type of PPI which can be used only for purchase of goods and services up to a limit of ₹10,000. The loading / reloading of such PPI will be only from a bank account and used for making only digital payments such as bill payments, merchant payments, etc. Such PPIs can be issued on the basis of essential minimum details sourced from the customer. Instructions in this regard will be issued by December 31, 2019.

 

4) Development of Secondary Market for Corporate Loans – setting up of Self Regulatory Body

As recommended by the Task Force on the Development of Secondary Market for Corporate Loans, the Reserve Bank will facilitate the setting up of a self-regulatory body (SRB) as a first step towards the development of the secondary market for corporate loans. The SRB will be responsible, inter-alia, for standardising documents, covenants and practices related to secondary market transactions in corporate loans and promoting the growth of the secondary market in line with regulatory objectives.

Watch out for detailed articles on these topics to be published on our website soon.

[1] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_PressReleaseDisplay.aspx?prid=48803

RBI revises qualifying assets criteria for NBFC MFIs

Team, Vinod Kothari Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

finserv@vinodkothari.com

The RBI on November 08, 2019[1] revised the limits relating to the qualifying assets criteria, giving a much needed boost to Micro-Finance Institutions. The change in limits comes pursuant to the Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies[2] issued as part of the Monetary Policy Statement dated 04 October, 2019.

A detailed regulatory framework for MFI’s was put into place in December, 2011 based on the recommendations of a Sub-Committee of the Central Board of the Reserve Bank. The regulatory framework prescribes that an NBFC MFI means a non-deposit taking NBFC that fulfils the following conditions:

  • Minimum Net Owned Funds of Rs. 5 Crore.
  • Not less than 85% of its net assets are in the nature of qualifying assets.

Thus meeting the qualifying assets criteria is crucial to be classified as an NBFC-MFI. The income and loan limits to classify an exposure as an eligible asset were last revised in 2015.

In light of the above and taking into consideration the important role played by MFIs in delivering credit to those in the bottom of the economic pyramid and to enable them to play their assigned role in a growing economy, it was decided to increase and review the limits.

Revised Qualifying assets criteria

The changes are highlighted in the table below:

Qualifying Assets Criteria
Erstwhile Criteria Revised Criteria
Qualifying assets shall mean a loan which satisfies the following criteria:
  i.       Loan disbursed by an NBFC-MFI to a borrower with a rural household annual income not exceeding ₹ 1,00,000 or urban and semi-urban household income not exceeding ₹ 1,60,000;    i.      Loan disbursed by an NBFC-MFI to a borrower with a rural household annual income not exceeding ₹ 1,25,000 or urban and semi-urban household income not exceeding ₹ 2,00,000;
ii.       Loan amount does not exceed ₹ 60,000 in the first cycle and ₹ 1,00,000 in subsequent cycles;  ii.      Loan amount does not exceed ₹ 75,000 in the first cycle and ₹ 1,25,000 in subsequent cycles;
iii.       Total indebtedness of the borrower does not exceed ₹ 1,00,000; iii.      Total indebtedness of the borrower does not exceed ₹ 1,25,000;
Note: All other terms and conditions specified under the master directions shall remain unchanged.

The Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies called for revisions in the household income and loan limits only. The notification of the RBI additionally, in light of the change in total indebtedness of the borrower, felt it necessary to also increase the limits on disbursal of loans.

The revised limits are effective from the date of the circular, i. e. November 08, 2019.

[1] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11727&Mode=0

[2] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_PressReleaseDisplay.aspx?prid=48318

Links of related articles:

Working Group proposal for stricter vigilance on CICs

-By Anita Baid

anita@vinodkothari.com, finserv@vinodkothari.com

Regulators and stakeholders have been seeking a review of Core Investment Companies (CIC) guidelines ever since defaults by Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS), a large systemically important CIC. In August 2019, there were 63 CICs registered with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). As on 31 March, 2019, the total asset size of the CICs was ₹2.63 trillion and they had approximately ₹87,048 crore of borrowings. The top five CICs consist of around 60% of the asset size and 69% borrowings of all the CICs taken together. The borrowing mix consists of debentures (55%), commercial papers (CPs) (16%), financial institutions (FIs) other corporates (16%) and bank borrowings (13%).

Considering the need of the hour, RBI had constituted a Working Group (WG) to Review Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for CICs, on July 03, 2019. The WG has submitted its report on November 06, 2019 seeking comments of stakeholders and members of the public.

Below is an analysis of the key recommendations and measures suggested by the WG to mitigate the related risks for the CICs:

Existing Provision & drawbacks Recommendation Our Analysis
Complex Group Structure
Section 186 (1) of Companies Act, 2013, which restricts the Group Structure to a maximum of two layers, is not applicable to NBFCs

 

 

The number of layers of CICs in a group should not exceed two, as in case of other companies under the Companies Act, which, inter alia, would facilitate simplification and transparency of group structures.

As such, any CIC within a group shall not make investment through more than a total of two layers of CICs, including itself.

For complying with this recommendation, RBI may give adequate time of say, two years, to the existing groups having CICs at multiple levels.

A single group may have further sub-division based on internal family arrangements- there is no restriction on horizontal expansion as such.

Further, the definition of the group must be clarified for the purpose of determining the restriction- whether definition of Group as provided under Companies Act 1956 (referred in the RBI Act) or under the Master Directions for CICs would be applicable.

To comply with the proposed recommendations, the timelines as well as suggested measures must also be recommended.

Multiple Gearing and Excessive Leveraging
Presently there is no restriction on the number of CICs that can exist in a group. Further, there is no
requirement of capital knock
off with respect to investments in other CICs. As a result, the step down CICs can use the capital for multiple leveraging. The effective leverage ratio can thus be higher than that allowed for regular NBFCs.
For Adjusted Net Worth (ANW) calculation, any capital contribution of the CIC to another step-down CIC (directly or indirectly) shall be deducted over and above the 10% of owned funds as applicable to other NBFCs.

Furthe, step-down CICs may not be permitted to invest in any other CIC.

Existing CICs may be given a glide path of 2 years to comply with this recommendation.

Certain business groups developed an element of multiple gearing as funds could be raised by the CICs and as well as by the step down CICs and the other group companies independently. At the Group level, it therefore led to over-leveraging in certain cases.

A graded approach, based on the asset size of the CICs, must have been adopted in respect of leverage, instead of a uniform restriction for all.

Build-up of high leverage and other risks at group level
There is no requirement to have in place any group level committee to articulate the risk appetite and identify the risks (including excessive leverage) at the Group level Every conglomerate having a CIC should have a Group Risk Management Committee (GRMC) which, inter alia, should be entrusted with the responsibilities of

(a)   identifying, monitoring and mitigating risks at the group level

(b)   periodically reviewing the risk management frameworks within the group and

(c)   articulating the leverage of the Group and monitoring the same.

Requirements with respect to constitution of the Committee (minimum number of independent directors, Chairperson to be independent director etc.), minimum number of meetings, quorum, etc. may be specified by the Reserve Bank through appropriate regulation.

There is no particular asset size specified. Appropriately, the requirement should extend to larger conglomerates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corporate Governance
Currently, Corporate Governance guidelines are not explicitly made applicable to CICs i.     At least one third of the Board should comprise of independent members if chairperson of the CIC is non-executive, otherwise at least half of the Board should comprise of independent members, in line with the stipulations in respect of listed entities. Further, to ensure independence of such directors, RBI may articulate appropriate requirements like fixing the tenure, non-beneficial relationship prior to appointment, during the period of engagement and after completion of tenure, making removal of independent directors subject to approval of RBI etc.

ii.   There should be an Audit Committee of the Board (ACB) to be chaired by an Independent Director (ID). The ACB should meet at least once a quarter. The ACB should inter-alia be mandated to have an oversight of CIC’s financial reporting process, policies and the disclosure of its financial information including the annual financial statements, review of all related party transactions which are materially significant (5% or more of its total assets), evaluation of internal financial controls and risk management systems, all aspects relating to internal and statutory auditors, whistle-blower mechanism etc. In addition, the audit committee of the CIC may also be required to review (i) the financial statements of subsidiaries, in particular, the investments made by such subsidiaries and (ii) the utilization of loans and/ or advances from/investment by CIC in any group entity exceeding rupees 100 crore or 10% of the asset size of the group entity whichever is lower.

iii.  A Nomination and Remuneration Committee (NRC) at the Board level should be constituted which would be responsible for policies relating to nomination (including fit and proper criteria) and remuneration of all Directors and Key Management Personnel (KMP) including formulation of detailed criteria for independence of a director, appointment and removal of director etc.

iv.  All CICs should prepare consolidated financial statements (CFS) of all group companies (in which CICs have investment exposure). CIC may be provided with a glide path of two years for preparing CFS. In order to strengthen governance at group level, if the auditor of the CIC is not the same as that of its group entities, the statutory auditor of CIC may be required to undertake a limited review of the audit of all the entities/ companies whose accounts are to be consolidated with the listed entity.

v.   All CICs registered with RBI should be subjected to internal audit.

vi.  While there is a need for the CIC’s representative to be on the boards of its subsidiaries / associates etc., as necessary, there is also a scope of conflict of interest in such situations. It is therefore recommended that a nominee of the CIC who is not an employee / executive director of the CIC may be appointed in the Board of the downstream unlisted entities by the respective CIC, where required.

The extent of applicability of NBFC-ND-SI regulations is not clear. The FAQs issued by RBI on CICs (Q12), state that CICs-ND-SI are not exempt from the Systemically Important Non-Banking Financial (Non-Deposit Accepting or Holding) Companies Prudential Norms (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2015 and are only exempt from norms regarding submission of Statutory Auditor Certificate regarding continuance of business as NBFC, capital adequacy and concentration of credit / investments norms.

Further, no asset size has been prescribed – can be prescribed on “group basis”. That is, if group CICs together exceed a certain threshold, all CICs in the group should follow corporate governance guidelines, including the requirement for CFS.

Most of the CICs are private limited companies operating within a group, having an independent director on the board may not be favorable.

Further, carrying out and internal audit and preparing consolidated financials would enable the RBI to monitor even unregulated entities in the Group.

Currently, the requirement of
consolidation comes from the
Companies Act read along with
the applicable accounting
standards. Usually, consolidation
is required only where in case of
subsidiaries, associates and joint
ventures.

However, if the recommendation
is accepted as is then even a
single rupee investment
exposure would require
consolidation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Exempt Category and Registration
Currently there is a threshold of ₹ 100 crore asset size and access to public funds for registration as CIC
  1. The current threshold of ₹ 100 crore asset size for registration as CIC may be retained. All CICs with public funds and asset size of ₹ 100 crore and above may continue to be registered with RBI. CICs without access to public fund need not register with the Reserve Bank.
  2. The nomenclature of ‘exempted’ CIC in all future communications / FAQs etc. published / issued by the Reserve Bank should be discontinued.
Since the category of ‘exempted CICs; were not monitored, there was no means to detect when a CIC has reached the threshold requiring registration.

This remains to be a concern.

 Enhancing off-site surveillance and on-site supervision over CICs
There is no prescription for submission of off-site returns or Statutory Auditors Certificate (SAC) for CICs Offsite returns may be designed by the RBI and prescribed for the CICs on the lines of other NBFCs. These returns may inter alia include periodic reporting (e.g. six monthly) of disclosures relating to leverage at the CIC and group level.

A CIC may also be required to disclose to RBI all events or information with respect to its subsidiaries which are material for the CIC.

Annual submission of Statutory Auditors Certificates may also be mandated. Onsite inspection of the CICs may be conducted periodically.

The reporting requirements may help in monitoring the activities of the CICs and developing a database on the structures of the conglomerates, of which, the CIC is a part. This may assist in identification of unregulated entities in the group.

 

 

Our other related write-ups:

Our write-ups relating to NBFCs can be viewed here: http://vinodkothari.com/nbfcs/

 

 

 

Liquidity Risk Management Framework- Snapshot

Applicability

  1. Non-deposit taking NBFCs with asset size of Rs.100 crore and above
  2. Systemically important Core Investment Companies
  3. Deposit taking NBFCs irrespective of their asset size

All other NBFCs are also encouraged to adopt these guidelines on liquidity risk management on voluntary basis

Exclusion:

  1. Type 1 NBFC-NDs- NBFC-ND not accepting public funds/ not intending to accept public funds in the future andnot having customer interface/ not intending to have customer interface in the future
  2. Non-Operating Financial Holding Companies and Standalone Primary Dealers

Action to be taken:

The Board of Directors must revise the existing ALM policy or adopt a new LRM Framework to put in place internal monitoring mechanism for the following:

  • Adopt liquidity risk monitoring tools/metrics to cover
    1. concentration of funding by significant counterparty/ instrument/ currency[1],
    2. availability of unencumbered assets that can be used as collateral for raising funds; and,
    3. certain early warning market-based indicators, such as, book-to-equity ratio, coupon on debts raised, breaches and regulatory penalties for breaches in regulatory liquidity requirement.
    4. The Board / committee set up for the purpose shall monitor on a monthly basis, the movements in their book-to-equity ratio for listed NBFCs and the coupon at which long-term and short-term debts are raised by them. This also includes information on breach/penalty in respect of regulatory liquidity requirements, if any.
  • Monitor liquidity risk based on a “stock” approach to liquidity
    • Board to set predefined internal limits for various critical ratios pertaining to liquidity risk.
    • Indicative liquidity ratios are
      • short-term liability to total assets;
      • short-term liability to long-term assets;
      • commercial papers to total assets;
      • non-convertible debentures (NCDs) (original maturity less than one year) to total assets;
      • short-term liabilities to total liabilities; long-term assets to total assets.
    • Put in place process for identifying, measuring, monitoring and controlling liquidity risk.
      • It should clearly articulate a liquidity risk tolerance that is appropriate for its business strategy and its role in the financial system
      • Senior management should develop the strategy to manage liquidity risk in accordance with such risk tolerance and ensure that the NBFC maintains sufficient liquidity
    • Develop a process to quantify liquidity costs and benefits so that the same may be incorporated in the internal product pricing, performance measurement and new product approval process for all material business lines, products and activities.
    • Conduct stress tests on a regular basis for a variety of short-term and protracted NBFC-specific and market-wide stress scenarios (individually and in combination)
    • Ensure that an independent party regularly reviews and evaluates the various components of the NBFC’s liquidity risk management process

Revision in the existing ALM framework to incorporate granular buckets

As per the existing norms, the mismatches (negative gap) during 1-30/31 days in normal course shall not exceed 15% of the cash outflows in this time bucket. Pursuant to the revised framework, the 1-30 day time bucket in the Statement of Structural Liquidity is segregated into granular buckets of 1-7 days, 8-14 days, and 15-30 days. The net cumulative negative mismatches in the maturity buckets of 1-7 days, 8-14 days, and 15-30 days shall not exceed 10%, 10% and 20% of the cumulative cash outflows in the respective time buckets.

Revision in interest rate sensitivity statement

Granularity in the time buckets would also be applicable to the interest rate sensitivity statement required to be submitted by NBFCs.

Composition of Risk Management Committee

The Risk Management Committee, which reports to the Board and consisting of Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/ Managing Director and heads of various risk verticals shall be responsible for evaluating the overall risks faced by the NBFC including liquidity risk.

Asset Liability Management (ALM) Support Group

The existing Management Committee of the Board or any other Specific Committee constituted by the Board to oversee the implementation of the system and review its functioning periodically shall be substituted with ALM Support Group. It shall consist of operating staff who shall be responsible for analysing, monitoring and reporting the liquidity risk profile to the ALCO. Such support groups will be constituted depending on the size and complexity of liquidity risk management in an NBFC.

Public Disclosure

To enable market participants to make an informed judgment about the soundness of its liquidity risk management framework and liquidity position-

  1. Disclose information in the format provided under Appendix I, on a quarterly basis on the official website of the company and
  2. In the annual financial statement as notes to account

Responsibility of Group CFO

The Group Chief Financial officer (CFO) shall develop and maintain liquidity management processes and funding programmes that are consistent with the complexity, risk profile, and scope of operations of the ‘companies in the Group’- as defined in the Master Directions.

MIS System

Put in place a reliable MIS designed to provide timely and forward-looking information on the liquidity position of the NBFC and the Group to the Board and ALCO, both under normal and stress situations.

Liquidity Coverage Ratio- Snapshot

Applicability:

  1. Non-deposit taking NBFCs with asset size of Rs.5,000 crore and above,
  2. Deposit taking NBFCs irrespective of their asset size

Exclusion:

  1. Core Investment Companies,
  2. Type 1 NBFC-NDs,
  3. Non-Operating Financial Holding Companies and Standalone Primary Dealer

Computation:

Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) is represented by the following ratio:

Stock of High Quality Liquid Assets (HQLA)/ Total net cash outflows over the next 30 calendar days

Here, “High Quality Liquid Assets (HQLA)” means liquid assets that can be readily sold or immediately converted into cash at little or no loss of value or used as collateral to obtain funds in a range of stress scenarios.

Timeline:

Effective date of implementation of the LCR norm is December 01, 2020, as per the timeline mentioned herein below. The LCR shall continue to be minimum 100% (i.e., the stock of HQLA shall at least equal total net cash outflows) on an ongoing basis with effect from December 1, 2024, i.e., at the end of the phase-in period.

  1. For non-deposit taking systemically important NBFCs with asset size of Rs.10,000 crore and above and all deposit taking NBFCs irrespective of the asset size, LCR to be maintained as per the following timeline:
From December 01, 2020 December 01, 2021 December 01, 2022 December 01, 2023 December 01, 2024
Minimum LCR 50% 60% 70% 85% 100%
  1. For non-deposit taking NBFCs with asset size of Rs. 5,000 crore and above but less than Rs. 10,000 crore, the required level of LCR to be maintained, as per the time-line given below:
From December 01, 2020 December 01, 2021 December 01, 2022 December 01, 2023 December 01, 2024
Minimum LCR 30% 50% 6

0%

85% 100%

Disclosure Requirements:

NBFCs shall be required to disclose information on their LCR every quarter. Further, NBFCs in their annual financial statements under Notes to Accounts, starting with the financial year ending March 31, 2021, shall disclose information on LCR for all the four quarters of the relevant financial year.

[1] A “Significant counterparty” is defined as a single counterparty or group of connected or affiliated counterparties accounting in aggregate for more than 1% of the NBFC-NDSI’s, NBFC-Ds total liabilities and 10% for other non-deposit taking NBFCs

A “significant instrument/product” is defined as a single instrument/product of group of similar instruments/products which in aggregate amount to more than 1% of the NBFC-NDSI’s, NBFC-Ds total liabilities and 10% for other non-deposit taking NBFCs.

 

Our other related write-ups:

SEBI’s Framework for listing of Commercial Papers

Munmi Phukon | Principal Manager, Vinod Kothari & Company

corplaw@vinodkothari.com

Introduction

SEBI on 22nd October, 2019 came out with a Circular to provide for the Framework for listing of Commercial Papers (CPs). The Circular is based on the recommendations of the Corporate Bonds & Securitization Advisory Committee (CoBoSAC) chaired by Shri H. R. Khan which was set up for making recommendations to SEBI on developing the market for corporate bonds and securitized debt instruments.

CPs are currently traded in OTC market though settled through the clearing corporations. Evidently, listing of CPs for trading in stock exchanges will enhance the investor participation which will in turn help the issuers to cope up with their short term fund requirements. SEBI’s current move in laying down the Framework is to ensure investor protection keeping in mind a prospective broader market for CPs. The Circular is mostly concerned about making elaborate disclosures at the time of submitting the application for listing and also some disclosures on a continuous basis post listing of the CPs.

As evident from the content of the Circular, some of the disclosure requirements proposed at the time of application for listing of the CPs are same as provided in the format of Letter of Offer as provided in the Operational Guidelines on CPs[1] (Operational Guidelines) prescribed by the Fixed Income Money Market and Derivatives Association of India (FIMMDA). However, there are certain additional requirements which are discussed in this article.

Disclosure requirements at the time of application for listing

Annexure I of the Circular provides for the disclosure requirements which the issuers are required to make at the time of submitting the application and the content of the same is quite elaborative which covers almost every aspect of an issuer. The broad segments of disclosures are as below:

General details of issuer
Under this heading, details such as, name, CIN, PAN, line of business group affiliation will be given. The issuer will also be required to give name of the managing director, CEO, CFO or president as chief executives. The disclosures are same as provided in the Operational Guidelines.

Details of directors
Details of current set of directors including inter alia their list of directorships and the details of any change in directors in the last 3 financial years and the current year shall be required to be disclosed.  Currently, the Operational Guidelines do not require these details.

Details of auditors
Details of current auditor and any change in directors in the last 3 financial years and the current year shall be required to be disclosed. Currently, the Operational Guidelines do not require these details.

Details of security holders
Under this category, the disclosure shall be made for top 10 equity shareholders, top 10 debt security holders and top 10 CP holders. However, the date of determination of the same has not been provided. Currently, the Operational Guidelines do not require these details.

Details of borrowings as at the end of latest quarter before filing of the application
Details of borrowings are divided into 3 parts-

a.      Details of debt securities and CPs. The Operational Guidelines require the details of CPs issued during last 15 months and also of the outstanding balance as on the date of offer letter.

b.      Details of other facilities such as secured/ unsecured loan facilities/bank fund based facilities, borrowings other than above, if any, including hybrid debt like foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCB), optionally convertible debentures / preference shares from banks or financial institutions or financial creditors. The details related to outstanding debt instruments and bank fund based facilities are same as provided in the Operational Guidelines however, it was silent on the hybrid instruments.

c.      Details of corporate guarantee or letter of comfort along with name of the counterparty on behalf of whom it has been issued, contingent liability including debt service reserve account (DSRA) guarantees/ any put option etc. Operational Guidelines do not require these details currently.

Information related to the concerned issue

The content is more or less similar to the details required to be provided in the Letter of Offer as provided in the Operational Guidelines. The additional requirements are as follows:

d.     Details of credit rating letter issued should not be older than one month on the date of opening of the issue and

e.      Copy of the executed guarantee.

Financial information
The stock exchanges shall be provided with the following financial information-

a.      Audited / Limited review of half yearly consolidated financial statements, if available;

b.      Financial statements along with auditor qualifications, if any, for last 3 years along with latest available financial results;

c.      Latest available quarterly financial results prepared under Regulation 33, if applicable;

d.     Latest audited financials not older than six months from the date of application. However, companies already complying with the Listing Regulations may submit unaudited financials with limited review.

The Operational Guidelines currently require the financial summary only of last 3 FYs to be provided in the letter of offer.

Material information
The following shall be disclosed-

a.      Details of all default/s and/or delay in payments of interest and principal of CPs, (including technical delay), debt securities, term loans, external commercial borrowings and other financial indebtedness including corporate guarantee issued in the past 5 financial years including in the current financial year.

b.      Ongoing and/or outstanding material litigation and regulatory strictures, if any.

c.      Any material event/ development having implications on the financials/credit quality including any material regulatory proceedings against the issuer/ promoters, tax litigations resulting in material liabilities, corporate restructuring event which may affect the issue or the investor’s decision to invest / continue to invest in the CP.

The disclosures in point (a) and (c) above are not required to be disclosed in the letter of offer as per Operational Guidelines.

Asset Liability Management (ALM) disclosures for NBFCs and HFCs

The Circular specifically provides for some additional disclosures for NBFCs and HFCs which are currently not required to be provided in the letter of offer prescribed by FIMMDA:

a.      NBFCs shall make disclosures as specified for NBFCs in SEBI Circular nos. CIR/IMD/DF/ 12 /2014[2], dated June 17, 2014 and CIR/IMD/DF/ 6 /2015, dated September 15, 2015. Further, “Total assets under management”, under the aforesaid Circular dated September 15, 2015 shall also include details of off balance sheet assets.

b.      HFCs shall make disclosures as specified for NBFCs in the said SEBI Circular no. CIR/IMD/DF/ 6 /2015, dated September 15, 2015, with appropriate modifications viz. retail housing loan, loan against property, wholesale loan – developer and others.

In terms of the SEBI Circular dated June 17, 2014, NBFCs are required to disclose the details with regards to the lending done by them, out of the issue proceeds of previous public issues, including details regarding the following:

a.      Lending policy;

b.      Classification of loans/advances given to associates, entities /person relating to Board, Senior Management, Promoters, Others, etc.;

c.      Classification of loans/advances given to according to type of loans, sectors, maturity profile, denomination, geographical classification of borrowers, etc.;

d.      Aggregated exposure to the top 20 borrowers with respect to the concentration of advances, exposures to be disclosed in the manner as prescribed by RBI in its guidelines on Corporate Governance for NBFCs, from time to time;

e.      Details of loans, overdue and classified as non-performing in accordance with RBI guidelines.

The Circular dated September 15, 2015 provides for the following additional disclosures:

a.      In case any of the borrower(s) of the NBFCs form part of the “Group” as defined by RBI, then appropriate disclosures shall be made as regards the name of the borrower, Amount of Advances /exposures to such borrower and Percentage of Exposure;

b.      A portfolio summary with regards to industries/ sectors to which borrowings have been made by NBFCs;

c.      Quantum and percentage of secured vis-à-vis unsecured borrowings made by NBFCs;

d.      Any change in promoter’s holdings in NBFCs during the last financial year beyond a particular threshold (RBI has prescribed such a threshold level at 26% at present).

Continuous disclosures after listing of CPs

Annexure II of the Circular provides for the disclosure requirements which shall be observed on a continuous basis. The details of such disclosures are broadly as below:

a.      Submission of financial results

i.          For issuers which are required to follow Chapter IV of SEBI LODR Regulations i.e. whose specified securities are listed, the financial results shall be in the format as prepared and submitted under Regulation 33. The issuers will also be required to disclose along with the financial results the additional line items as required under Regulation 52(4). This shall also apply to an issuer which is required to prepare financial results for the purpose of consolidated financial results in terms of Regulation 33;

·      The line items as provided under Regulation 52(4) are as below:

o  credit rating and change in credit rating (if any);

o  asset cover available, in case of non- convertible debt securities;

o  debt-equity ratio;

o  previous due date for the payment of interest/ dividend for non-convertible redeemable preference shares/ repayment of principal of non-convertible preference shares /non- convertible debt securities and whether the same has been paid or not; and,

o  next due date for the payment of interest/ dividend of non-convertible preference shares /principal along with the amount of interest/ dividend of non-convertible preference shares payable and the redemption amount;

o  debt service coverage ratio;

o  interest service coverage ratio;

o  outstanding redeemable preference shares (quantity and value);

o  capital redemption reserve/debenture redemption reserve;

o  net worth;

o  net profit after tax;

o  earnings per share:

 ii.          For issuers which are required to comply with provisions of Chapter V of the Regulations only i.e. whose NCDs/ NCPSs are only listed, the financial results shall be prepared and submitted as per regulation 52; and

iii.          Issuers who only have outstanding listed CPs shall prepare and submit financial results in terms of Regulation 52.

 

b.      Disclosure of material events

The issuers shall disclose the following details to the stock exchange(s) as soon as possible but not later than 24 hours from the occurrence of event (or) information:

i.          Details such as expected default/ delay/ default in timely fulfilment of its payment obligations for any of the debt instrument;

ii.          Any action that shall affect adversely, fulfilment of its payment obligations in respect of CPs;

iii.          Any revision in the credit rating;

iv.          A certificate confirming fulfilment of its payment obligations, within 2 days of payment becoming due.

c.      ALM Statements for issuers who are NBFCs/HFCs

NBFCs and HFCs will be required to simultaneously submit to the stock exchanges the latest ALM statements as and when they submit the same to respective regulator(s) viz RBI/NHB, as applicable.

d.     CEO/ CFO Certification

A certificate from the CEO/CFO shall be submitted by the issuers to the recognized stock exchange(s) on quarterly basis certifying that CP proceeds are used for disclosed purposes, and adherence to other listing conditions.

Conclusion

As mentioned above, the disclosure requirements as provided in the Circular are meant for assisting the investors in taking an informed decision. Since the requirements are new, it is expected that apart from the stock exchanges, FIMMDA/ RBI will also come out with the revised Operational Guidelines/ Directions in order to bring more clarity on this aspect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.fimmda.org/modules/content/?p=1033
[2] https://www.sebi.gov.in/sebi_data/attachdocs/1403065620622.pdf

Sale assailed: NBFC crisis may put Indian securitisation transactions to trial

-By Vinod Kothari (vinod@vinodkothari.com)

Securitisation is all about bankruptcy remoteness, and the common saying about bankruptcy remoteness is that it works as long as the entities are not in bankruptcy! The fact that any major bankruptcy has put bankruptcy remoteness to challenge is known world-over. In fact, the Global Financial Crisis itself put several never-before questions to legality of securitisation, some of them going into the very basics of insolvency law[1]. There have been spate of rulings in the USA pertaining to transfer of mortgages, disclosures in offer documents, law suits against trustee, etc.

The Indian securitisation market has faced taxation challenges, regulatory changes, etc. However, it has so far been immune from any questions at the very basics of either securitisability of assets, or the structure of securitisation transactions, or issues such as commingling of cashflows, servicer transition, etc. However, sitting at the very doorstep of defaults by some major originators, and facing the spectrum of serious servicer downgrades, the Indian securitisation market clearly faces the risk of being shaken at its basics, in not too distant future.

Before we get into these challenges, it may be useful to note that the Indian securitisation market saw an over-100% growth in FY 2019 with volumes catapulting to INR 1000 billion. In terms of global market statistics, Indian market may now be regarded as 2nd largest in ex-Japan Asia, only after China.

Since the blowing up of the ILFS crisis in the month of September 2018, securitisation has been almost the only way of liquidity for NBFCs. Based on the Budget proposal, the Govt of India launched, in Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme, a scheme for partial sovereign guarantee for AA-rated NBFC pools. That scheme seems to be going very well as a liquidity breather for NBFCs. Excluding the volumes under the partial credit enhancement scheme, securitisation volumes in first half of the year have already crossed INR 1000 billion.

In the midst of these fast rising volumes, the challenges on the horizon seem multiple, and some of them really very very hard. This write up looks at some of these emerging developments.

Sale of assets to securitisation trusts questioned

In an interim order of the Bombay High court in Edelweiss AMC vs Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited[2], the Bombay High court has made certain observations that may hit at the very securitisability of receivables.  Based on an issue being raised by the plaintiff, the High Court has directed the company DHFL to provide under affidavit details of all those securitisation transactions where receivables subject to pari passu charge of the debentureholders have been assigned, whether with or without the sanction of the trustee for the debentureholders.

The practice of pari passu floating charge on receivables is quite commonly used for securing issuance of debentures. Usually, the charge of the trustees is on a blanket, unspecific common pool, based on which multiple issuances of debentures are covered. The charge is usually all pervasive, covering all the receivables of the company. In that sense, the charge is what is classically called a “floating charge”.

These are the very receivables that are sold or assigned when a securitisation transaction is done. The issue is, given the floating nature of the charge, a receivable originated automatically becomes subject to the floating charge, and a receivable realised or sold automatically goes out of the purview of the charge. The charge document typically requires a no-objection confirmation of the chargeholder for transactions which are not in ordinary course of business. But for an NBFC or an HFC, a securitisation transaction is a mode of take-out and very much a part of ordinary course of business, as realisation of receivables is.

If the chargeholder’s asset cover is still sufficient, is it open for the chargeholder to refuse to give the no-objection confirmation to another mode of financing? If that was the case, any chargeholder may just bring the business of an NBFC to a grinding halt by refusing to give a no-objection.

The whole concept of a floating charge and its priority in the event of bankruptcy has been subject matter of intensive discussion in several UK rulings[3]. There have been discussions on whether the floating charge concept, a judge-made product of UK courts, can be eliminated altogether from the insolvency law[4].

In India, the so-called security interest on receivables is not really intended to be a security device – it is merely a regulatory compliance with company law rules under which unsecured debentures are treated as “deposits”[5]. The real intent of the so-called debenture trust document is maintenance of an asset cover, which may be expressed as a covenant, even otherwise, in case of an unsecured debenture issuance. The fact is that over the years, the Indian bond issuance market has not been able to come out of the clutches of this practice of secured debenture issuance.

While bond issuance practices surely need re-examination, the burning issue for securitisation transactions is – if the DHFL interim ruling results into some final observations of the court about need for the bond trustee’s NOC for every securitisation transaction, all existing securitisation transactions may also face similar challenges.

Servicer-related downgrades

Rating agencies have recently downgraded two notches from AAA ratings several pass-through certificate transactions of a leading NBFC. The rationale given in the downgrade action, among other things, cites servicer risks, on the ground that the originator has not been able to obtain continuous funding support from banks. While absence of continuing funding support may affect new business by an NBFC, how does it affect servicing capabilities of existing transactions, is a curious question. However, it seems that in addition to the liquidity issue, which is all pervasive, the rating action in the present case may have been inspired by some internal scheme of arrangement proposed by the NBFC in question.

This particular downgrades may, therefore, not have a sectoral relevance. However, what is important is that the downgrades are muddying the transition history of securitisation ratings. From the classic notion that securitisation ratings are not susceptible to originator-ratings, the dependence of securitisation transactions to pure originator entity risks such as internal funding strengths or scheme of arrangement puts a risk which is usually not considered by securitisation investors. In fact, the flight to securitisation and direct assignments after ILFS crisis was based on the general notion that entity risks are escaped by securitisation transactions.

Servicer transitions

The biggest jolt may be a forced servicer transition. In something like RMBS transactions, outsourcing of collection function is still easy, and, in many cases, several activities are indeed outsourced. However, if it comes to more complicated assets requiring country-wide presence, borrower franchise and regular interaction, if servicer transition has to be forced, the transaction will be worse than originator bankruptcy.

Questions on true sale

The market has been leaning substantially on the “direct assignment” route. Most of the direct assignments are seen by the investors are look-alikes and feel-alikes of a loan to the originator, save and except for the true-sale opinion. Investors have been linking their rates of return to their MCLR. Investors have been viewing the excess spread as a virtual credit support, which is actually not allowed as per RBI regulations. Pari-passu sharing of principal and interest is rarely followed by the market transactions.

If the truth of the sale in most of the direct assignment transactions is questioned in cases such as those before the Bombay High court, it will not be surprising to see the court recharacterise the so-called direct assignments as nothing but disguised loans. If that was to happen in one case of a failed NBFC, not only will the investors lose the very bankruptcy-remoteness they were hoping for, the RBI will be chasing the originators for flouting the norms of direct assignment which may have hitherto been ignored by the supervisor. The irony is – supervisors become super stringent in stressful times, which is exactly where supervisor’s understanding is required more than reprimand.

Conclusion

NBFCs are passing through a very strenuous time. Delicate handling of the situation with deep understanding and sense of support is required from all stakeholders. Any abrupt strong action may exacerbate the problem beyond proportion and make it completely out of control. As for securitisation practitioners, it is high time to strengthen practices and realise that the truth of the sale is not in merely getting a true sale opinion.

Other Related Articles:


[1] For example, in a Lehman-related UK litigation called Perpetual Trustees vs BNY Corporate Trustee Services, the typical clause in a synthetic securitisation diverting the benefit of funding from the protection buyer (originator – who is now in bankruptcy) to the investors, was challenged under the anti-deprivation rule of insolvency law. Ultimately, UK Supreme Court ruled in favour of securitisation transactions.

[2] https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/pdf_upload-365465.pdf. Similar observations have been made by the same court in Reliance Nippon Life AMC vs  DHFL.

[3] One of the leading UK rulings is Spectrum Plus Limited, https://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKHL/2005/41.html. This ruling reviews whole lot of UK rulings on floating charges and their priorities.

[4] See, for example, R M Goode, The Case for Abolition of the Floating Charge, in Fundamental Concepts of Commercial Law (50 years of Reflection, by Goode)

[5] Or partly, the device may involve creation of a mortgage on a queer inconsequential piece of land to qualify as “mortgage debentures” and therefore, avail of stamp duty relaxation.

UPDATE: No GST input if supplier doesn’t upload details of output: GST Council amends CGST rules to curb ineligible credit availing

-Rahul Maharshi

(rahul@vinodkothari.com) (finserv@vinodkothari.com)

The GST council in its 37th Meeting held on 20th September, 2019, had proposed to make amendments in the CGST Rules, 2017 (“Rules”) pertaining to matters relating to the extension of due date of filing of GSTR-3B GSTR-1 as well as voluntary requirement of filing of GST Annual return for registered person whose aggregate turnover is less than Rs. 2 crores.

One of the major amendment proposed was to restrict the claiming of input tax credit by the recipient, in case of mismatch in details uploaded by the supplier, to the extent of 20% over and above the value of uploaded details by the supplier.

The above proposed amendment has been brought into force through notification 49/2019- Central Tax   [1] whereby the input credit availed by a registered person, the details of which have not been uploaded by the suppliers vide GSTR-1, the same should not exceed 20% of the eligible credit that has been uploaded by the suppliers.

As per the insertion in the CGST rules, 2017, viz. sub-rule (4) of rule 36:

“(4) Input tax credit to be availed by a registered person in respect of invoices or debit notes, the details of which have not been uploaded by the suppliers under sub-section (1) of section 37, shall not exceed 20 per cent. of the eligible credit available in respect of invoices or debit notes the details of which have been uploaded by the suppliers under sub-section (1) of section 37.”

For example, as per the books of the recipient, there is an input tax credit of Rs. 5,000 for a particular month from a particular supplier against 5 tax invoices having the GST component of Rs. 1,000 each.  Post the amendment, the following scenarios shall arise:

Case-1: In case the supplier has uploaded all 5 invoices:

In case the supplier has duly uploaded the details of all the 5 invoices through filing the GSTR-1 for the particular month, the auto-populated GSTR-2A will have the details of all such invoices and accordingly the recipient will be eligible to claim the input tax credit of all 5 invoices

Case-2: In case the supplier has uploaded 3 invoices:

In case the supplier has uploaded less than 5 invoices, i.e. 3 invoices having GST component of Rs. 3,000, the recipient will be eligible to claim input tax credit at a maximum of Rs. 3,600 (viz. 3,000+20% of 3,000= 3,600).

Case-3: In case the supplier has not uploaded any invoice:

In case the supplier has not uploaded any invoice in the GSTR-1 of the respective month, the recipient will not be eligible to claim the input tax credit in that particular month. However, the recipient may claim the input as soon as the supplier uploads the details in the GSTR-1 and corresponding details reflect in the auto-populated GSTR-2A.

As a result of the said amendment, the recipient will be required to monitor the duly uploading of the invoices by the supplier in a more stringent manner, since omission of the same will result in reduction in claiming of input tax credit by the recipient.

Also, an important point of concern will be the change in accounting of the input tax credit in the books of the recipient. The excess claim over 20% of the eligible input tax credit will require allocation against the invoices of which the input tax credit would pertain to.

Continuing the above example viz. Case 2, where the supplier has uploaded 3 invoices, how will the recipient allocate the said portion of 20% viz. Rs. 600 if the recipient claims input tax credit at the excess of 20%. The recipient has to allocate the said amount against portion of particular invoices.

The above move may be seen as a way to monitor the claiming of inputs by the recipients as well as a check on the supplier for uploading the returns on a regular basis. However, there are pertinent issues which require further clarification from the department.

 

[1] http://www.cbic.gov.in/resources//htdocs-cbec/gst/notfctn-49-central-tax-english-2019.pdf;jsessionid=15BA096E92769114F368D806E28B8FF5