RBI permits bidders of insolvent companies to raise funds through ECB route

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In a bid to facilitate resolution process under insolvency law, the RBI Thursday proposed to permit bidders to raise funds through external commercial borrowing for repayment to the existing lenders.

As per the existing guidelines, the proceeds of External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) denominated in either foreign currency or Indian Rupee, are not permitted to be utilised for repayment or for on-lending for repayment of domestic Rupee loans.

"The resolution applicants under Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 may find it attractive to borrow abroad to repay the existing lenders.

"In view of the above, it is proposed to relax the end-use restrictions under the approval route of the ECB framework for resolution applicants under CIRP and allow them to utilise the ECB proceeds for repayment of Rupee term loans of the target company," RBI said in a statement.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das while addressing media Thursday said, resolution under IBC is done by National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

"Our decision gives no room to fly by night operator to bring in money just for the sake of bringing in money. There are other openings of bringing in money, we have ECB route, we have FPI (foreign portfolio investor) route," Das said.

It's a well regulated process and only those companies which have been identified under resolution process will be able to tap this route, he said.

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RBI statement further said guidelines in this regard will be issued by the end of February 2019.

As part of the review of the FPI investment in corporate debt undertaken in April 2018, it was stipulated that no FPI should have an exposure of more than 20 per cent of its corporate bond portfolio to a single corporate (including exposure to entities related to the corporate).

"FPIs were given exemption from this requirement on their new investments till end-March 2019 to adjust their portfolios. While the provision was aimed at incentivising FPIs to maintain a portfolio of assets, further market feedback indicates that FPIs have been constrained by this stipulation," it said.
In order to encourage a wider spectrum of investors to access the Indian corporate debt market, the central bank said, it is now proposed to withdraw the exposure limit.

A circular to this effect will be issued by mid-February, 2019, it added.

RBI will also come out with draft guidelines by the end of next month to rationalise interest rate derivative regulations.

This will help in achieving consistency and ease of access with the eventual objective of fostering a thriving environment for management of interest rate risk in the Indian economy, it said.

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