1. Who can issue?

Any corporate (entity registered as a company under the Companies Act, 1956/ 2013) or body corporate (entity specially created out of a specific act of the Parliament) is eligible to issue Rupee denominated bonds overseas. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) coming under the regulatory jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) are also eligible. Indian banks are, however, not permitted to issue such bonds. Other resident entities like Limited Liability Partnerships and Partnership firms, etc. are also not eligible to issue these bonds.

2. Where can these bonds be issued?

The Rupee denominated bonds can only be issued in a country and can only be subscribed by a resident of a country:

  • that is a member of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) or a member of a FATF-Style Regional body; and
  • whose securities market regulator is a signatory to the International Organization of Securities Commission’s (IOSCO’s) Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (Appendix A Signatories) or a signatory to bilateral Memorandum of Understanding with the SEBI for information sharing arrangements; and
  • should not be a country identified in the public statement of the FATF as:

(i) A jurisdiction having a strategic Anti-Money Laundering or Combating the Financing of Terrorism deficiencies to which counter measures apply; or

(ii) A jurisdiction that has not made sufficient progress in addressing the deficiencies or has not committed to an action plan developed with the Financial Action Task Force to address the deficiencies.

3. Who can subscribe or invest in such bonds?

The Rupee denominated bonds can be subscribed / invested by an investor who is a resident of a country satisfying criteria given at 2 above.

4. Can Indian banks participate in the process of issuance of these bonds?

Indian banks cannot have access to these bonds as an issuer or investor. They, however, can act as arrangers/underwriters. In such roles (arrangers / underwriters), the holding by an Indian bank, either at the outset or through any support operations, cannot be more than 5 percent of the issue size beyond 6 months from the date of issue. Further, such holding shall be subject to applicable prudential norms.

5. What would be the minimum maturity of such bonds?

The minimum maturity period for such bonds will be 3 years. In case the subscription to the bonds/ redemption of the bonds is in tranches, minimum average maturity period should be 3 years.

6. Whether the Rupee bonds can provide option for prepayment to the issuer?

The bonds cannot have any optionality clause for prepayment before completing applicable maturity.

7. Can bonds be placed privately?

Yes, the bonds can either be placed privately or listed on exchanges as per host country regulations.

8. Is there any ceiling on the all-in-cost of such bonds?

The all-in-cost of such borrowings should be commensurate with prevailing market conditions and should be comparable with the cost at which the borrowing company is able to raise funds domestically.

9. What would be the maximum amount that can be raised through issuance of Rupee denominated bonds under automatic route?

The maximum amount that any eligible borrower can raise through issuance of these bonds under automatic route is INR 50 billion or its equivalent during a financial year. This limit is over and above the amount permitted to be raised under the automatic route by an entity eligible to raise External Commercial Borrowings (ECB).

10. For what all purposes the proceeds of Rupee bonds can be used?

The proceeds can be used for all purposes except for the following:

  1. Real estate activities other than for development of integrated township / affordable housing projects;
  2. Investing in capital market and using the proceeds for equity investment domestically;
  3. Activities prohibited as per the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) guidelines;
  4. On-lending to other entities for any of the above objectives; and
  5. Purchase of land.

11. Are there any requirements in respect of end-uses not mentioned at 10 above?

End-uses should also be in compliance with other applicable laws and regulations and should be permitted by respective sectoral regulator.

12. Whether sale / transfer / pledge of bonds permitted?

Yes, sale / transfer / pledge of bonds overseas is freely permitted provided conditions at question Nos. 2 and 3 are satisfied.

13. What is the meaning of integrated township and affordable housing projects for the purpose of end-use of proceeds of the bonds?

The term Integrated township will mean township as defined in the extant FDI policy. Affordable housing projects will also be as defined in the extant FDI policy.

14. Can proceeds from issuance of Rupee bonds overseas be used for other real estate activities other than what is given at 10 above?

No.

15. Whether the non-resident investor will be eligible to hedge their exposure?

The non-resident investors will be eligible to hedge their exposure in Rupee denominated bonds through permitted derivative products with AD Category – I banks in India. The investors can also access the domestic market through branches / subsidiaries of Indian banks abroad or branches of foreign banks with Indian presence abroad on a back to back basis.

16. What will be the exchange rate for foreign currency-Rupee conversion for such bonds?

The foreign currency-Rupee conversion will be at the market rate on the date of settlement of transactions undertaken for issue and servicing of the bonds, including its redemption.

17. Whether ECB liability : equity ratio, as applicable for raising ECB from foreign equity holder, is applicable in case of Rupee denominated bonds?

No.

18. What are the reporting requirements in respect of such bonds?

The process of issuance/servicing of such bonds requires dual reporting by the issuer through its Authorised Dealer Category-I bank:

  1. Bonds can be issued only after obtaining Loan Registration Number (LRN) from the Reserve Bank. The reporting through ECB 2 Return will also be required.
  2. In addition, actual inflows / outflows (principal only) should be reported on the date of transaction itself by email along with related LRN

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