Relaxation from compliance with certain provisions of the circulars issued under SEBI (Credit Rating Agencies) Regulations, 1999 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and moratorium permitted by RBI.

Securities and Exchange Board of India

SEBI/HO/MIRSD/CRADT/CIR/P/2020/53

March 30, 2020

To,

All Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) registered with SEBI

Dear Sir/ Madam,

Sub: Relaxation from compliance with certain provisions of the circulars issued under SEBI (Credit Rating Agencies) Regulations, 1999 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and moratorium permitted by RBI.

1. In view of the developments arising due to COVID-19 pandemic and in light of the moratorium permitted by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) (vide notification no. RBI/2019­20/186, dated March 27, 2020) on loan servicing, working capital facilities etc. for three months, a need for temporary relaxations in compliance by CRAs is felt. Accordingly, it has been decided to grant relaxations from the requirements stipulated vide circulars as under:

2. Recognition of Default

A. Currently, CRAs recognize default based on the guidance issued vide SEBI circular dated May 3, 2010 and November 1, 2016.

B. In view of the nationwide lockdown and the three month moratorium/ deferment on payment permitted by RBI, a differentiation in treatment of default, on a case to case basis, needs to be made as to whether such default occurred solely due to the lockdown or loan moratorium.

C. Accordingly, based on its assessment, if the CRA is of the view that the delay in payment of interest/principle has arisen solely due to the lockdown conditions creating temporary operational challenges in servicing debt, including due to procedural delays in approval of moratorium on loans by the lending institutions, CRAs may not consider the same as a default event and/or recognize default. Appropriate disclosures in this regard shall be made in the Press Release.

D. The above shall also be applicable on any rescheduling in payment of debt obligation done by the issuer, prior to the due date, with the approval of the investors/lenders.

E. The above relaxation is extended till the period of moratorium by the RBI.

3. Extension in timelines for press release and disclosures on website

A. Considering that the CRAs are dependent on the issuers and third parties for information collection which is impaired due to current lockdown, relaxation from timelines for rating action/ issue of press release by CRAs stipulated vide SEBI circular dated June 30, 2017 is being granted. However, CRAs should endeavour to finish the exercise on a best effort basis. Such cases shall be put up for ratification by the Rating Sub-Committee of the Board of CRA.

B. Further, an extension of 30 days is being granted for making annual and semi­annual disclosures by CRAs on its website for the period ended March 2020.

4. This circular is issued in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 11 (1) of Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 read with the provisions of Regulation 20 of SEBI (Credit Rating Agencies) Regulations, 1999, to protect the interest of investors in securities and to promote the development of, and to regulate, the securities market.

Yours faithfully,

Surabhi Gupta
General Manager
Tel No. 022-26449315
Email id: surabhicasebi.00v.in

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