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By Our Correspondent: With identification of 12 borrowers against whom the RBI will direct banks to initiate the proceedings under Indian Bankruptcy code (IBC), an important step towards the resolution of stressed assets has been taken. RBI is expected to direct the banks shortly, upon which the banks will have to file the cases against these borrowers with National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) which will decide on the admission on these cases under IBC within a period of 14 days. The identification of these borrowers is based on the accounts having exposure of more than Rs 5000 crore with 60% of which is classified as NPA as on March 31, 2016. "It must be noted that banks have exposure to borrowers through fund based and non-fund based limits, and even though the fund based limits extended to borrower may have turned NPA, the non-fund based limits continue to be classified as standard exposure till these gets crystallised as fund based exposure" says Mr Karthik Srinivasan - Group Head - Financial Sector Ratings - ICRA. If admitted under IBC, NCLT will also appoint an insolvency professional (IP) as suggested by the lenders, who will supersede the board of directors in these companies and convene a meeting of creditors before preparing a resolution plan/turnaround plan. The resolution plan has to be agreed by 75% of the lenders/creditors within a period of 180 days from the admission under IBC, in absence of which the company will undergo liquidation. A key imponderable is the extent to which these decisions could be challenged in the courts, thus delaying the process. However, while there has been precedence where a borrower has challenged in the Honorable High Court, the invocation of IBC by its lenders and its reference to NCLT; the same was not stayed and the proceedings under IBC continued. . Additionally, while RBI may have identified only 12 borrowers as of now, it has recommended the banks to prepare a resolution plan for the other non-performing borrowers within a period of six months, in absence of which banks will have to file proceeding against these borrowers under IBC. The details of the resolution process to be followed will be published by RBI in upcoming days; however it is expected that this will involve the coordinated efforts from various stakeholders identified by RBI, like lenders, rating agencies, asset reconstruction companies, PE funds to formulate a turnaround plan under the aegis of the oversight committee appointed by RBI. "While there are large number of stressed borrowers, with identification of these large 12 accounts accounting for 25% of gross NPAs, the legislative machinery and stakeholders (Like IBBI, NCLT, IPs, valuers) can have focused approach while overseeing the resolution process in these 12 accounts. For the other accounts, which are likely to be referred to OCs, arriving at a resolution plan during next six months can be a challenge given the large number of these stressed accounts. The effectiveness of the resolution process also remains to be seen given the failures of various other resolution schemes for stressed assets in the past. The outcome of the first case filed under IBC can be expected later this month or early next month, which will also provide clarity on kind of resolution agreements reached between different counter-parties ", adds Mr Srinivasan. "RBI is also expected to issue guidelines in relation to the provisioning norms for the accounts to be resolved under IBC, which as per our expectations will allow banks to amortize the haircuts on these loans over a longer-tenure, thereby preventing an immediate hit on their profit & loss account as well as capital levels, given the challenge most of the banks are facing on capital front. However similar relaxed provisioning norms for cases which are to be resolved by OCs before they are referred under IBC can also be considered to incentivise banks to agree on a resolution plan outside IBC. This may result in faster agreement on the resolution plan at OCs levels without a need for reference under IBC. If the resolution plan fails, the proceedings under IBC can always be initiated at the later date”, says Mr Srinivasan.
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