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Bringing pre-packs to India: a discussion on the way forward

“Pre-packs”, though yet to be born, have raised the expectations high. Reasons are obvious – the package is supposed to offer a lucrative combination of all the benefits of a ‘reorganisation/resolution plan’ as otherwise available only under formal insolvency proceedings with the added benefit of ‘speed’.

Pre-pack framework, as studies show, is not always contained in the statutory machinery. One of the close examples is UK. There the pre-pack arrangement is guided by insolvency practice statement, rather than a legislative framework.

In the Indian context, with some unique features, our insolvency regime stands differently from other jurisdictions – say, section 29A, and more importantly, section 32A.

Also, we already have certain debt restructuring tools in vogue – schemes of arrangement, and the apex bank’s framework for resolution of stressed framework. So, how do we welcome pre-packs, such that it serves the intended purpose? Surely enough, the pre-pack framework has to imbibe all the ‘good things’ which a formal insolvency framework has, and also offer something ‘over and above’ the existing options of debt restructuring.

The article sees these aspects and proposes what can be the optimal way of adopting pre-packs in India.

 

RESOLUTION VALUE MAY BE LOWER THAN LIQUIDATION VALUE?

-Richa Saraf

(richa@vinodkothari.com)

The Apex Court, vide its order dated 22.01.2020, in the matter of Maharasthra Seamless Limited vs. Padmanabhan Venkatesh & Ors.[1] held that there is no requirement that the resolution plan should match the maximized asset value of the corporate debtors. Reiterating the principle laid down in the case of Committee of Creditors of Essar Steel India Limited v. Satish Kumar Gupta[2], the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that once a resolution plan is approved by the committee of creditors (CoC), the Adjudicating Authority has limited power of judicial review.

The judgment of the Supreme Court boldly brings out the object of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“Code”), i.e. “resolution before liquidation”. However, it will be pertinent to understand whether this ruling should be considered as a benchmark? Further, what will be the situation in case of liquidation? Whether sale under liquidation can be done for a value lower than the reserve price?

Below we analyse the ruling, seeking to answer the aforementioned questions.

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The ‘net concentrate’ of ‘preference- Key takeaways from the SC ruling regarding preferential transactions

-Sikha Bansal

(resolution@vinodkothari.com)

The Hon’ble Supreme Court’s ruling in Jaypee [Civil Appeal Nos. 8512-8527 of 2019] stands as a landmark for two reasons – first, it deals with an otherwise unexplored periphery of vulnerable transactions in the context of insolvency, and secondly, it will have far-reaching impacts on how secured transactions are structured and the manner in which the lenders lend.

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Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 Quick review of Proposed Amendments

Megha Mittal

(resolution@vinodkothari.com)

Amidst the lingering need to fill in certain critical gaps to ensure streamlining of corporate insolvency resolution process (“CIRP”), the Cabinet on 10.12.2019 approved the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 (“Amendment Bill”)[1] further to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“Code”), which is now pending approval by the Houses.

The objective of the amendment being to remove difficulties, while it is expected that the amendments will have a retrospective impact to the extent possible, the Amendment Bill hints that the different provisions of the Amendment Bill shall be effective from different dates; and where the effect is retrospective in nature, it shall be deemed to be effective from the date the particular section originally came into force.

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Ablution by Resolution

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to wash out liability of corporate debtors resolved under IBC

-Sikha Bansal (resolution@vinodkothari.com)

 

Resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (‘Code’) is a harbinger of fresh start of the corporate debtor, which passes into the control of a new management by the very application of section 29A. The fresh start would have no meaning if the corporate debtor or the new management thereof have to bear the brunt of offences which the corporate debtor or its officers committed prior to ablution under the Code – that is, one cannot be made to reap what they did not sow. As such, it was important to provide immunity to the corporate debtor and its assets, the successful resolution applicant and the new management personnel.

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Sectoral regulators empowered to petition insolvency of financial services providers: Central Govt notifies insolvency rules

Vinod Kothari

(resolution@vinodkothari.com

The Central Govt on 15th November notified rules of procedure for insolvency proceedings for financial services providers, thereby indicating that the resolution and liquidation process for financial services entities has been taken out from the proposed enactment dealing with distress of financial entities. Notably, the actions in case of distress of financial services firms is not limited to insolvency – regulators take prompt corrective action, depending on the severity of the distress.

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Financial Service Provider under the clutch of IBC? Nature of the “debt” vs. Nature of the “debtor”

-Megha Mittal

(resolution@vinodkothari.com)

In a first of its kind, the Hon’ble National Company Law Tribunal, Principal Bench at New Delhi (“NCLT”) vide its order dated 04.11.2019[1] in the matter of Apeejay Trust v. Aviva Life Insurance Co. India Ltd., has initiated corporate insolvency resolution process against the Corporate Debtor, despite it being a financial service provider under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“Code”).

In the above pretext, one may recall the order of the Hon’ble National Company Law Appellate Tribunal in the matter of Randhiraj Thakur v. Jindal Saxena Financial Services[2], wherein the Hon’ble Appellate Tribunal upheld that financial service providers shall not fall within the ambit of the Code. The order of the Hon’ble NCLAT in the said matter has been discussed in our articles “NBFCs and IBC- the Lost Connection[3] and “State of Perplexity- Applicability of IBC on NBFCs”[4].

In this article, the author has made a humble attempt to analyse the order of the Hon’ble NCLT based on its facts, observations and the extant law.

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