Sale of Retail NPAs : A synoptic overview

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One stop RBI norms on transfer of loan exposures

– Financial Services Division (

[This version dated 24th September, 2021. We are continuing to develop the write-up further – please do come back]

The RBI has consolidated the guidelines with respect to transfer of standard assets as well as stressed assets by regulated financial entities under a common regulation named Reserve Bank of India (Transfer of Loan Exposures) Directions, 2021 (“Directions”).

The Directions divided into five operative chapters- the first one specifying the scope and definitions, the second one laying down general conditions applicable on all loan transfers, the third one specifying the requirements in case of transfer of loans which are not in default, that is standard assets, the fourth one provides the additional requirement for transfer of stressed assets and the fifth chapter is on disclosure and reporting requirements. Read more

Intricacies of the Draft Framework on Sale of Loans

-Kanakprabha Jethani (


The draft framework for ‘Sale of Loan Exposures’[1] (‘Draft’) issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently provides a detailed framework for sale of all kinds of loan exposures viz. standard, stressed and NPLs. The RBI invited comments and suggestions from the stakeholders on the Draft and has raised a few specific questions for discussion in the Draft.

Presently, there are two separate guidelines, one for sale of standard assets (Direct Assignment guidelines) and one for sale of stressed assets and NPLs (Master Circular on Prudential norms on Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning pertaining to Advances[2])

While we have already prepared a comparative[3] and a detailed analysis[4] for sale of standard loans, we hereby provide an analysis of guidelines relating to sale of stressed assets and NPLs.

Understanding the Existing Framework

The existing framework for sale of loan exposures is posed in bits and pieces. The framework may broadly be understood in the following manner:

For sale of standard loans (this includes assets falling between 0-90 DPD)Guidelines on Transactions Involving Transfer of Assets through Direct Assignment (DA) of Cash Flows and the Underlying Securities- Provided in the Master Directions for NBFCs[5]
For Sale of stressed loans (this includes NPAs, SMA-2 and standard assets under consortium, 75% of which has been classified as NPA by other lenders and 75% of lenders by value agree to the sale to ARCs)·        Para 6 of Master Circular – Prudential norms on Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning pertaining to Advances

·        Notification issued by the RBI on Prudential Framework for Resolution of Stressed Assets[6]

·        Notification issued by the RBI on Guidelines on Sale of Stressed Assets by Banks[7]

For Sale of NPLs (this includes assets falling in the 90+DPD bucket)·        Para 7 of Master Circular – Prudential norms on Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning pertaining to Advances

·        Notification issued by the RBI on Guidelines on Sale of Stressed Assets by Banks

What does the Draft behold?

The Draft proposes a consolidated framework to govern sale of loan exposures and is a combination of certain existing guidelines and some newly introduced ones. Let us delve into key changes introduced in the Draft one by one.



While the existing guidelines were specifically applicable to NBFCs, banks and other financial institutions, the applicability of the Draft is extended to SFBs and All India Financial Institutions (AIFIs) such as NABARD, NHB, SIDBI, EXIM Bank etc.


The existing guidelines were applicable to sale of loans by a financial entity to another. However, this did not prohibit sale of loans to non-financial entities. The only difference was that the rights under SARFAESI and other laws were impacted.

The Draft guidelines specifically state that the sale of sale of loans may be made by the entities mentioned above as sellers to any regulated entity, which is allowed by its statutory or regulatory framework to buy such loans.

Hence, any sale of loans, to entities whose regulatory/statutory framework does not allow such purchase, cannot be done. Further, sale of loan to entities whose regulatory/statutory framework allows such purchase, irrespective of whether such entity is a financial entity or not, shall be governed by the provisions of the Draft.

Nature of Assets

The Draft directions contain separate provisions for sale of standard assets, sale of stressed assets to ARCs and sale of NPAs. Under the existing framework, an asset was said to be standard, till it is classified as NPA i.e. after 90 DPD. The Draft defines stressed assets to include NPAs as well as SMA accounts. Thus, any 0+ DPD account becomes a stressed asset. Due to this, the provisions relating to sale of standard assets, which are broadly in line with the guidelines on DA, shall not apply on assets falling between 1 to 90 DPD.

Since the classification of the asset is strictly based on the number of days past due, it may raise various practical difficulties. For example, if the due date for repayment of a loan installment is January 1, 2020 and there is a grace period of 10 days. The loan is classified as SMA-0 on February 1, 2020 (irrespective of the fact that it is not even 30 days past the grace period) and now, the sale of such loan shall be as per the guidelines for sale of stressed assets.

Recourse against the Transferor/Originator

Under the existing guidelines, the sale to ARCs was allowed on a ‘with’ or ‘without’ recourse basis and sale of NPAs to parties other than ARCs was allowed on a non-recourse basis only. The Draft clearly states that any sale of loans shall be on a ‘without recourse’ basis only. While there will be no impact on sale of standard assets and sale NPAs to parties other than ARCs, the transactions of sale of stressed assets to ARCs shall certainly be affected.

Treatment of loans given for on-lending

The Draft contains specific provisions with respect to the loans that were granted by the originator for on-lending. Para 51 of the Draft states that “Lenders may also purchase stressed assets from other lenders even if such assets had been created out of funds lent by the transferee to the transferor subject to all the conditions specified in these directions.”

Let us take an example to understand this:

A is an NBFC, which has given out a loan amounting to Rs. 100 @ 5% p.a. to B, which is another NBFC. Now B, gives out loans of Rs. 20 each @ 7% p.a. to 5 individuals.

Now, A can purchase these 5 loans from B, when they become stressed i.e. 0+ DPD. Here, it is clearly visible that the risk undertaken by B has no risk at all. The funds for lending have been provided by A. B keeps the assets in its books only till they are standard. As soon as assets turn SMA-0, B will remove them from its books sell them off to A. Additionally, till the time assets were standard, B earned a spread of 2%.

Manner of Transfer

The Draft defines transfer as- “transfer” means a transfer of economic interest in loan exposures in the manner prescribed in these directions, and includes loan participations and transactions in which the loan exposure remains on the books of the transferor even after the said transaction.

Para 9 contradicts the definition, requiring a legal separation of the asset from the books of the transferor. Tis issue has been discussed at length in our write-up titled “Originated to transfer- new RBI regime on loan sales permits risk transfers.[8]

The Draft further specifies that the sale/transfer of loans may be done by way of assignment or novation. Presently, most of such transactions are effected through assignment only. The loan agreement usually contains a clause whereby the borrowers gives consent to the lender to sell the loan to a third party. In case such a clause is not there in the loan agreement, the sale of loan would require consent of all the parties to the agreement, including the borrower.  In this case, the transfer of loans will have to be effected through novation of the agreement.

The Draft simply clarifies that transfer may be done through either of the modes. We do not see any practical implication as such.

Asset Classification

The asset classification criteria has been divided into 2 categories:

  • If the transferee has existing exposure to the same borrower: The asset classification shall be the same as that of the existing exposure in books of the transferee
  • If the transferee does not have an existing exposure to the same borrower: The asset acquired shall be classified as standard and thereafter the classification shall be determined based on the record of recovery

If the existing exposure is not standard in the books, the asset classification of the acquired asset shall also be as per the existing exposure. This seems to be derived from the asset classification practices followed earlier to determine stress in the assets i.e. if the borrower is defaulting in one of the exposures, it is likely to delay/default in repayment of other exposures as well.

However, this shall increase the provisioning requirements for the transferee and thus, may be a demotivating factor for sale of stressed assets.

MHP requirements

The Draft extends MHP requirements to ARCs as well. The business of ARCs includes frequent selling and buying of loans and portfolios. Putting a holding requirement of 12 months may slow down the business.

On the other hand, this may ensure that ARCs put better recovery efforts, before selling the loans to other entities.

Reporting Requirements

The existing guidelines did not lay the responsibility of reporting to CIC on any of the parties. Thus, the same was determines by the agreement between the parties. Usually, in case of sale to ARCs, the reporting is done by the ARCs and in case of sale to banks/FIs, the reporting is done by the originator only (since originator usually acts as a servicer).

The Draft specifically lays the responsibility of reporting on the transferee. Reasonably, the servicer of the loans has entire information of the servicing of the loan, repayment patterns etc. and thus, is the most suitable party to do the reporting. Let us examine a few cases with regard to reporting:

TransfereeServicerReporting Obligation onRemarks
ARCARCARCSince the ARC is servicing the loan, it shall be able to properly report the details to CICs
Bank/FIOriginatorBank/FIThe Bank/FI will have to obtain the servicing details from the originator and then report the same to CICs
Bank/FIBank/FIBank/FISince the bank/FI is servicing the loan, it shall be able to properly report the details to CICs

Hence, the reporting obligation may be placed on the servicer or may be kept open for the parties to decide.


The existing guidelines relating to sale of NPAs required the transferor to work out the NPV of the estimated cash flows associated with the realisable value of the assets net of the cost of realisation. At least 10% of the estimated cash flows should be realized in the first year and at least 5% in each half year thereafter, subject to full recovery within three years.

The above requirement is not there in the Draft, the reason for which is unknown.

The Draft provides that in case of sale to ARCs, if the ARC is not able to redeem the SRs/PTCs by the end of resolution period (obviously due to inadequate servicing of the loans) the liability against the same should be written off as loss.

Takeover of standard assets

The Draft allows all the regulated entities, other than the transferor, to take over the assets from ARCs, once they turn standard on successful implementation of resolution plan. Earlier only ARCs were allowed to buy assets from other ARCs. This is a welcome move as it will enable other financial entities to buy assets from ARCs.


The Draft has come with some interesting proposals and the RBI is yet to receive comments on the same from the industry. The representations from the industry and the response of the RBI on the same will formulate the new regime for securitisation.


Our other write-ups may be referred here: