RBI Proposal on Rupee Linked Bonds

In the past, rupee denominated bond
issuances have essentially been available to multilateral institutions, of
which the International Finance Corporation (IFC) had availed of them. Now, the
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced a draft
, which allows Indian companies as well to tap this avenue for
raising debt. Indian corporates that are eligible to avail of external
commercial borrowings (ECBs) will now be able to issue rupee-linked bonds
overseas in any jurisdiction that is Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
compliant. There is a cap on pricing of the bonds in that the coupon should not
be more than 500 basis points above the sovereign yield of corresponding
Government of India security. Other terms such as requirement of regulatory
approvals and end-use restrictions are similar to ECBs. Investors in such bonds
are allowed to hedge both currency risk as well as credit risk through
permitted derivative products in the domestic market. There are more relaxed
requirements for international financial institutions issuing such bonds
depending upon whether or not the proceeds are being deployed in India.
This proposal could have the effect
of expanding fund-raising opportunities for Indian corporates, especially to fulfill
financial demand in sectors such as infrastructure. This is particularly the
case given the relative shallowness of the domestic bond market. At the same
time, the tight restrictions such as cap on pricing and other conditions that
are pegged to the ECB policy may act as a dampener against significant inflow
of funds through this route.
This framework is yet under
consideration, and comments to the RBI are due by June 15, 2015.

About the author

Umakanth Varottil

Umakanth Varottil is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. He specializes in corporate law and governance, mergers and acquisitions and cross-border investments. Prior to his foray into academia, Umakanth was a partner at a pre-eminent law firm in India.

1 comment

  • Presently, apart from multilateral institutions, FII's can also subscribe to listed rupee denominated bonds issued by Indian companies under Schedule V to FEMA 20. Under this route, there are no restrictions on coupon, permitted sectors, etc.

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