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Guidelines for bank finance for PSU disinvestments of Government of India

Guidelines for bank finance for PSU disinvestments of Government of India :

In terms of RBI circular DBOD No. Dir.BC .90/13.07.05/98 dated August 28, 1998, banks have been advised that the promoters’ contribution towards the  equity capital of a company should come from their own resources and the bank should not normally grant advances to take up shares of other companies. Banks were also advised to ensure that advances against shares were not used to enable the borrower to acquire or retain a controlling interest in the company/companies or to facilitate or retain inter-corporate investment. It is clarified that the aforesaid instructions of the 1998 circular would not apply in the case of bank finance to the successful bidders under the PSU disinvestment programme of the Government, subject to the following:

• Banks’ proposals for financing the successful bidders in the PSU disinvestment programme should be approved by their Board of Directors.

• Bank finance should be for acquisition of shares of PSU under a disinvestment programme approved by Government of India, including the secondary stage mandatory open offer, wherever applicable and not for subsequent acquisition of the PSU shares. Bank finance should be made available only for prospective disinvestments by Government of India.

• The companies, including the promoters, to which bank finance is to be extended, should have adequate net worth and an excellent track record of servicing loans availed from the banking system.

• The amount of bank finance thus provided should be reasonable with reference to the banks’ size, its net worth and business and risk profile.

In case the advances against the PSU disinvestment is secured by the shares of the disinvested PSUs or any other shares, banks should follow RBI’s extant guidelines on capital market exposures on margin, ceiling on overall exposure to the capital market, risk management and internal control systems, surveillance and monitoring by the Audit Committee of the Board, valuation and disclosure, etc. In this regard, banks may be guided by the Master Circular on Exposure Norms dated July 1, 2015.

Stipulation of lock-in period for shares

Banks may extend finance to the successful bidders even though the shares of the disinvested company acquired/ to be acquired by the successful bidder are subjected to a lock-in period/ other such restrictions which affect their liquidity, subject to fulfillment of following conditions:

(a) The documentation between the Government of India and the successful bidder should contain a specific provision permitting the pledgee to liquidate the shares even during lock-in period that may be prescribed in respect of such disinvestments, in case of shortfall in margin requirements or default by the borrower.

(b) If the documentation does not contain such a specific provision, the borrower (successful bidder) should obtain waiver from the Government for disposal of shares acquired under PSU disinvestment programme during the lock-in period.

As per the terms and conditions of the PSU disinvestments by the Government of India, the pledgee bank will not be allowed to invoke the pledge during the first year of the lock-in period. During the second and third year of the lock-in period, in case of inability of the borrower to restore the margin prescribed for the purpose by way of additional security or non-performance of the payment obligations as per the repayment schedule agreed upon between the bank and the borrower, the bank would have the right to invoke the pledge. The pledgee bbank’s right to invoke the pledge during the second and third years of the lock-in period, would be subject to the terms and conditions of the documentation between Government and the successful bidder, which might also cast certain responsibilities on the pledge banks.

RBI has also clarified that the concerned bank must make a proper appraisal and exercise due caution about creditworthiness of the borrower and the financial viability of the proposal. The bank must also satisfy itself that the proposed documentation, relating to the disposal of shares pledged with the bank, are fully acceptable to the bank and do not involve unacceptable risks on the part of the bank.

Further, in terms of IECD Circular No. 10/ 08.12.01/ 2000- 2001 dated 8 January 2001, banks are precluded from financing investments of NBFCs in other companies and inter-corporate loans / deposits to/ in other companies. However, the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) which comply with the following conditions would not be treated as investment companies and therefore would not be considered as NBFCs:

a) They function as holding companies, special purpose vehicles, etc., with not less than 90 per cent of their total assets as investment in securities held for the purpose of holding ownership stake,

b) They do not trade in these securities except for block sale,

c) They do not undertake any other financial activities, and

d) They do not hold/accept public deposits.