Government looks to super funds to back $2 billion small business plan

Superannuation funds will be courted to participate in the federal government’s $2 billion push to increase funding for small business.

The government’s two part policy announced on Wednesday features a potential $2 billion investment in a  securitisation fund to help small businesses access debt finance outside the big banks and the “encouragement” of the establishment of a growth fund to provide longer term equity funding.

Mr Frydenberg told Fairfax Media on Friday there was a clear need for the funds “with the big banks responsible for more than 80 per cent of small business loans that are less than $2 million, there are few alternative funding routes.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the two funds on Wednesday.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the two funds on Wednesday. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Securitisation fund

The securitisation fund will operate through the government buying bonds that are drawn from a pool of small business loans and providing cheaper funding to smaller banks and non-bank lenders through new or existing warehouse facilities.

The government will receive interest from these loans on a monthly basis which is where it will make its money and a well placed source said the government hopes superannuation funds will also participate in a similar way.

Ultimately the source said the government envisages it will not have to keep investing as the market matures which could take around three to five years.

Looking to superannuation funds

Joseph Healy, is the co-founder of SME lender Judo Capital, which is likely to benefit from the fund and said if the government is willing to invest money through the fund, superannuation funds may be willing to invest as well.

Related Article

Frydenberg's $2b plan is a solution searching for a problem
Finance

Frydenberg’s $2b plan is a solution searching for a problem

“Being able to invest into the securitisation fund and access a pools of funds rather than individual funds is a much better way for SMEs to access the superannuation market,” he said.

Eva Scheerlinck, chief executive of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees, said new investment opportunities are always welcome but it’s too early to say what the response will be from super funds.

“Super funds have a fiduciary duty to their members to ensure that every investment made is the right one for their portfolio and the investment outlook,” she said.

“At the end of the day, the assets that trustees invest in still have to be of investment grade and assessed against a rigorous criteria to ensure members get the best outcomes.”

Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees chief executive Eva Scheerlinck.
Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees chief executive Eva Scheerlinck.Credit:Steven Pam

Small business ombudsman Kate Carnell helped develop the policy and said the securitisation fund would encourage smaller banks and non bank lenders to lend to small businesses.

“For second tier banks the cost of lending is a mix of risk and cost of capital,” she said. “Why don’t they lend now?  The cost of capital is high and the dilemma of lending to small business or SMEs is that the risk is higher. By bringing down the cost of capital you can make the business case for some of these lenders to focus on small business.”

Small businesses having trouble securing finance

01:16

Small businesses having trouble securing finance

Small businesses are being promised easier access to finance through a new $2 billion fund to be unveiled by the Morrison Government.

Growth fund

The second part of the government’s policy is to promote the establishment of a growth fund.

The government is consulting with the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority and the banks over how the fund would work.

The fund would provide passive equity investment to small businesses to enable them to grow without taking on additional debt or giving up control of their business and is likely to be modelled on similar funds in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Since its establishment in 2011, the United Kingdom’s business growth fund has invested some $2.7 billion in a range of sectors across the economy.

Unlike a traditional private equity investment or a ‘Shark Tank’ style investment, businesses would not have to give up control or offer a board seat.

A similar fund doesn’t exist in Australia in part because the amount of capital APRA requires banks to hold for these investments makes it unprofitable for the banks however this treatment is under review.

The government’s role will be limited to setting up the rules around the funds operation and ensuring reporting and auditing.

[“source=ndtv”]

Square adds to its small-business ecosystem with benefits like health insurance

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addresses students during a town hall at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi, India, November 12, 2018.

Anushree Fadnavis | Reuters
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addresses students during a town hall at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi, India, November 12, 2018.

Square is ramping up its bet on small businesses by offering big company benefits.

The fintech firm, run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, announced on Wednesday it would give small businesses using its payroll platform the option to offer perks like health insurance and retirement savings to employees.

“It’s a new enhancement to the Square platform and a powerful solution that has historically been cost-prohibitive to small businesses,” Alyssa Henry, head of Square seller and developer business units, said on a call with reporters.

The San Francisco-based company partnered with only “technology-focused” firms — SimplyInsured, Guideline 401(k), Alice, and AP Intego. The available benefits range from health insurance, retirement savings, pre-tax spending, and workers’ compensation.

Businesses that use Square Payroll, a product that became available nationwide last month, can pick one or all of the benefit options for their employees. Those benefits will sync with Square Payroll and automate deductions and business contributions, which also helps with tax compliance, the company said.

The move came after a recent company survey showed that 42 percent of Square users listed “benefits” as the top new product request.

“That confirmed what we’ve been hearing anecdotally,” said Caroline Hollis, head of Square Payroll. “Offering access to benefits was the most difficult thing we hadn’t solved for in the space.”

Square has significantly expanded its small-business product suite since the company launched in 2009. It started with credit card processing and payment hardware but now includes payroll services, and loans through Square Capital. It also launched a payment installment option in October.

The company reported earnings last week that beat Wall Street’s expectations for the top and bottom line, but came up slightly short on fourth-quarter guidance. The stock has been on a tear this year, up more than 110 percent since January.

Square is also well-known in the payments sector for its popular Cash app, which CEO Jack Dorsey said customers are now using as a traditional bank in many cases.

“We do see people use the Cash App fundamentally as you would expect them to use a bank account,” Dorsey said on a the earnings call last week. “They store money with us, it’s accepted anywhere Visa is accepted. They can send and receive money from friends and family.

[“source=ndtv”]

Government called upon to reform tax system to aid small businesses

Sue O’Neill was speaking at the SFA’s annual lunch in Dublin, which was attended by about 400 members

Sue O’Neill was speaking at the SFA’s annual lunch in Dublin, which was attended by about 400 members

The Government needs to urgently implement “real reform” within the tax system to ensure competitiveness and end discrimination against the self-employed and entrepreneurs, the head of the Small Firms Association has said.

Sue O’Neill, chairwoman of the SFA, said taxation remains one of the most powerful tools available to the State as it urged the Government to do more to support small business.

“The opportunity to address areas of our tax policy that hinder our ability to compete with our nearest neighbours in particular, were missed in Budget 2019 and instead of ensuring that no additional costs were imposed on small business, we see the reinstatement of the 13 per cent vat in sectors that reinvented themselves and significantly contributed to our recovering economy,” she said.

‘Important pillars’

“One of the most important pillars of a national small business strategy is a comprehensive tax policy. As a country we need to urgently implement real reform within our tax system to ensure sustainable competitiveness for small business and finally end tax discrimination against the self-employed and entrepreneurs,” Ms O’Neill added.

Ms O’Neill was speaking at the SFA’s annual lunch in Dublin, which was attended by about 400 members.

Warning about the dangers Brexit poses for small firms, Ms O’Neill also spoke of a softening of confidence among members with a recent study showing that the number of companies who feel the business environment is improving has declined.

[“source=ndtv”]

Don’t misuse I-T laws, tax rates already low: CBDT to industry

CBDT Chairman Sushil Chandra addressing a CII interactive session on Union Budget 2017-18 in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chief Sushil Chandra today asked the industry to refrain from misusing provisions of the law to evade taxes, saying the effective tax rate for big companies is already 26% on account of various exemptions.

He said the industry should act more responsibly than the salaried class in paying taxes and help build a tax compliant society.

“I want to drive home that point very clearly before the industry that you should be more tax compliant, automatically rates will come down. We are ready to move with you for making the society tax compliant. Industry has got much more responsibility than a salaried person,” Chandra said while addressing the CII post-Budget meet.

In 2018-19 Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed to lower corporate tax rate to 25% for businesses with turnover of up to ₹250 crore.

Over the last three years, the government has announced reduction of taxes in a phased manner for various categories of corporates and currently only 7,000 corporate houses are still in the 30 per cent slab.

However, Chandra said that the effective tax rate for large companies works out to be 26 per cent after taking into account various exemptions which they enjoy.

“26 per cent is the tax rate for bigger companies after exemption, because all exemptions cannot go overnight… So we have covered all the companies into low tax regime that is 25 and 26 per cent, so rates are quite good at this moment,” Chandra said at the CII post-Budget meet here.

He further said that had the government cut tax rates for all corporates to 25%, then the cost to the exchequer would have been ₹60,000 crore.

The Chief of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said that despite the government coming out with anti-black money measures and picking up lesser number cases for scrutiny, there are people who are misusing the income tax law provision.

“I would urge the industry that you should not yield to the temptation of misuse of sections so that at least our work of adding the anti-abuse provisions should be reduced and one-fourth of the Budget work can go away.

“When the law is so simple, when rates are reasonable, which the industry generally asks from us … Now I’m asking from you (industry) that at least be tax compliant,” Chandra said.

[“Source-thehindu”]

Entering A New Industry? 8 Ways To Break In Successfully

It’s never easy to get your foot in the door of a new industry. Whether you’re looking to start a business venture or simply collaborate with a brand in that market, the process of breaking in is a tricky one that must be handled with care: You can’t expect to be welcomed with open arms without proving yourself to industry veterans.

We asked eight members of Young Entrepreneurs Council about what it takes to successfully enter an unfamiliar industry. From making the right connections to offering a prototype or free services, here’s what they had to say.

All images courtesy of YEC members.

Entrepreneurs share tips for entering a new industry.

1. Talk To Industry Veterans, Potential Customers And Advisors

When it comes to getting a firm grasp on a new industry, one of the best ways is to leverage the experience of the veteran entrepreneurs in your industry. If you meet with them and ask many questions, you can learn quickly what it took them years to learn. If you combine this with reading books, the effect compounds. The next step is to meet with customers in the industry to understand their pain points to determine how you can innovate and differentiate yourself in this new space. Write down notes and reflect on the stories you hear to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The last step is to find a problem to solve and make an assumption you can measurably test to validate your business idea and meet advisors who can guide you before you go fully commit yourself. – Dan San, Meural

2. Partner With An Industry Leader

In my career, I have had many opportunities to enter into a new industry I really knew nothing about. Then I developed a mentality I like to call, “don’t buy it, sell it.” Why purchase a product or service you know you can sell, with just a little more knowledge and understanding? If you partner up with the right person or company, not only do you gain access to an unlimited supply of whatever that product or service is, but you also gain access to knowledge that you cannot read in FAQ or terms and conditions. Sometimes, the best way to break into anything when it comes to “the unknown,” is to admit your own ignorance to yourself, bite the bullet, and ask for help or advice. And, anyone will let you sell their products or services in exchange for more information. – Jason Criddle, Jason Criddle and Associates

3. Offer Free Or Discounted Services At First

One awesome tactic to break into new territory is to offer to do the project for free, or at a reduced rate, in exchange for feedback. This allows you to work with a client who will help you understand the industry. You will be upfront that this is your first project for this industry, but you are applying the same knowledge from other industries so it should work out fine. The client is getting great work, but at a discounted rate. You are getting inside knowledge on how to build a better service or platform. If there are any mistakes, both you and the client know this is a first time and so expectations are not as high. It takes a good client to make this work, but can be a success for both parties. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

4. Network With Anyone You Can

The best strategy for breaking into a new industry is to meet people in that industry. Research industry organizations and get involved. Become a member, join a committee, go to the events. Meet your new peers, learn about their work, care about their work and then show them your struggle. People want to help. Obviously, you don’t want to reach out to a potential competitor. However, you can reach out to just about anyone else. The best referrals that I have ever received came from someone random. Not the “big fish” everyone is always trying to meet at networking events. Especially if you are among other business owners, we’ve all been there, ask for help. – Allyson Case, Integro Rehab LLC

5. Be Continually Curious

Who said curiosity killed the cat? Following your curiosity is the key to learning a new industry. We hold the library of Alexandria at our fingertips with the internet today. It has never been easier to become more intelligent than 99 percent of the population on a given subject. I start by going down the Google rabbit hole. I open 10-15 tabs, watch the top rated YouTube videos, add the expert’s names to an Evernote file and circle the subject like a shark. If the idea is to understand autonomous cars, Google the biggest companies, top YouTube videos, “why autonomous cars will change world,” and on you go. Once you start watching experts and realize you know what they are about to say, you’re an expert. – Codie Sanchez, Www.CodieSanchez.com

6. Create Prototypes To Showcase Your Industry Knowledge

I always believe in creating some prototype software to showcase my knowledge and understanding of an Industry. When I wanted to reach out to a transportation industry, I first talked to a few people and figure out the issues they are having. Then based upon the issues, I created a prototype and showcased to C-level executives. It takes around one month to build a prototype, efforts pay off as I can use it to earn business. Don’t be afraid of barging into new verticals, all that is needed is energy to learn and solve problems. There is always a beginning. – Piyush Jain, SIMpalm

7. Make A List Of Questions You Have, Then Find The Answers

When I want to dive into a new venture, I start going to the bookstore to learn everything and anything on the subject. Then I create a list of what I want to search online and the questions I have pertaining to the venture. Before you know it, I am looking into forums and connecting with people who have already succeeded in the particular venture. I want to be able to learn from them and areas of improvement as well. For example, I was looking to create a new travel app that made it easy for young women to coordinate their travels. I connected with travel agencies, started reading books about travel journeys to get inside the head of a traveler, and reaching out to a network of well-traveled young women. The community of women was how I was able to build traction for the app. – Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

8. Connect With Trusted Influencers And Get Their Endorsement

One of the best ways to make your brand or business well-known or respected in any space is to connect with a brand, website, or influencer who is already trusted and has a massive following. This is something we are commonly seeing in the world of social media, and specifically on Instagram, where visual content is king. No matter what it is you have to offer or sell, simple brand association can go a long way when trying to connect with a new audience. The important thing here to remember is that you don’t want to go in too strong and come off as just a paid placement or advertisement. Instead, it should be able to the value provided and blending in with the user experience that is expected from the people or brands they are already following. – Zac Johnson, Blogger

[“Source-forbes”]

UK gambling regulator calls on industry to stamp out sexism

The UK’s gambling regulator will on Monday call on the industry to stamp out sexism, warning that women attending an annual conference taking place this week are “expected to wear nothing more than swimsuits”.

Gambling Commission chief executive Sarah Harrison will warn that the regulator could boycott the ICE Totally Gaming event, the world’s largest gambling industryconference, unless attitudes change. Past guests at the conference have said companies hosting stands frequently use “scantily clad” women to attract people to their product displays.

Harrison’s warning comes amid fierce debate about the treatment of women employed to provide hospitality at events, following revelations about the men-only Presidents Club dinner, where female staff were allegedly groped and sexually harassed.

Formula 1 last week took the decision to stop using “grid girls” – models who display sponsor and driver names at Grand Prix – while darts events have scrapped so-called “walk-on girls” to escort players to the oche.

Harrison will say that last year’s ICE event inspired her to urge senior figures from the world of gambling to follow suit by addressing a “significant stain on the industry’s reputation”. “This is an industry where we have a number of talented, powerful and successful women,” she will tell the International Casino Conference, an event held on the eve of the ICE event.

“Yet from walking around the exhibition you wouldn’t know this. Instead you saw men representing their companies wearing expensive tailored suits whilst their female colleagues were expected to wear nothing more than swimsuits. I say bring this to an end now.”

“And to go further, any future participation by the Gambling Commission in events like this will depend on there being change,” Harrison will add.

Previous guests at the ICE conference, held at the ExCel conference centre in London’s Docklands, told the Guardian that event was renowned for the use of underdressed women, including Playboy models, to advertise gambling products.

“A lot of the promotional activity involves attractive young ladies, often not wearing that much,” said one previous delegate. “It’s not all skin, but there’s quite a lot on show typically. Girls in body paint and not much else. One company had a Playboy-themed slot machine on display and they brought along Playboy centrefolds.

“You had paunchy slot machine buyers going up to get their pictures taken with them. It was a bit pathetic, but I’ve never seen any predatory behaviour like the Presidents Club.”

As the industry prepared for the event, the European Casino Association (ECA) and Clarion Gaming, which organises the ICE conference, urged companies planning to exhibit to be aware of potential allegations of sexism.

“In the spirit of the 21st century, when both women and men play strategic and decision-making roles in businesses, we encourage all exhibitors to mindfully represent support staff promoting their products at the show in a non-offensive and non-stereotyping way,” they said in an open letter.

“For both organisations, it is clear that presenting a modern and diverse gaming industry should be at the heart of the show. For this to be successful and ensure that all participants feel equally welcome, the respectful representation of genders is crucial,” the letter added.

ECA chairman Per Jaldung said: “It is imperative that our industry presents its positive image … Our industry is modern and inclusive, and we call on exhibitors to showcase the great products and services they offer in a respectful manner that does not rely on outdated stereotypes.”

Ewa Bakun, head of content strategy at Clarion Gaming, said: “We have been exerting a soft pressure on our exhibitors and educating the ICE audience on the ways the industry can evolve to create a more inclusive culture and improve gender diversity across all organisational levels.”

In Harrison’s speech on Monday, she will point to the fact that the UK’s highest paid chief executive is Denise Coates of gambling company Bet365, who paid herself £217m last year. And she will say that a push for greater diversity is “not about political correctness” but will help businesses respond better to customers’ needs.

[“Source-theguardian”]

Auto industry braces for impact as India begins shift to electric vehicles

The emergence of electric vehicles means a new ecosystem will have to be built and a lot of component manufacturers who make engine parts, pistons, rubber tubes, etc, will have to shut shop or adapt. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

The emergence of electric vehicles means a new ecosystem will have to be built and a lot of component manufacturers who make engine parts, pistons, rubber tubes, etc, will have to shut shop or adapt. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

New Delhi: Abhay Firodia is not perturbed by the possible impact that the advent of electric vehicles may have on the ecosystem for automobiles.

“Bank employees went on strike when they were introduced to computers,” the 73-year-old chairman of Force Motors Ltd, Pune-based light commercial vehicle manufacturer, and president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, or Siam, told Mint last year when asked if the industry has assessed the impact of such a gigantic shift towards electric vehicles.

The government plans to switch to electric vehicles by 2030, which has now been described by road transport minister Nitin Gadkari as unofficial.

Firodia may have been unconcerned about the changes that the industry may have to undergo but the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (Acma), the industry lobby that represents companies who do business worth Rs1.45 trillion, rushed to NITI Aayog in December. The idea was to express concern to the government that a sudden move to large-scale adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) could lead to massive job losses.

“Suppliers are underestimating the speed of change, while being 7-8 years behind global peers on tech… leading to a significant impending local threat from global peers,” Acma told NITI Aayog in presentation reviewed by Mint.

“With industry investments and jobs at stake, the country cannot afford to lose the domestic component industry in her quest for EVs,” Acma said, suggesting that millions of jobs could be at stake if there is a sudden moves towards electric vehicles.

It was a desperate plea, especially given the fact that internal combustion engines (ICE), which are used in most cars, have more than 2,000 moving parts, while an electric vehicle has about 20, resulting in fewer breakdowns. Among the parts that will see demand dry up once electric vehicles dominate in India, are engines, transmission, aluminium castings, cylinder blocks and cast iron. These will give way to an electric motor run by batteries.

The Acma presentation said the ICE powertrain contributes to over 60% of the employment generation in the auto component sector, and that a switch to 100% electric could impact up to 5.6 million jobs by 2025-26.

Automobile component manufacturers are known as the bedrock of the industry across the globe.

Siam in concurrence with the NITI Aayog, has proposed that 40% of vehicles in India would be shifted to electric while vehicles used for public transport would be 100% shifted to electric by 2030.

The emergence of electric vehicles means a new ecosystem will have to be built and a lot of component manufacturers who make engine parts, pistons, rubber tubes, etc, will have to shut shop or adapt.

According to Vinnie Mehta, director general, ACMA, the government should come up with a technology-agnostic road map for the development of sustainable mobility solutions for the future.

“As of now there is uncertainty among component manufacturers as to how their business will be impacted with the advent of electric vehicles. A coherent policy framework is the need of the hour,” Mehta said.

The long-term investment in the automobile component industry means a period of five years and some manufacturers of rubber tubes, air filters and pistons are in a quandary over whether to go in for improving their manufacturing capacities or not.

“People in the industry are definitely apprehensive of investing more since there is no clear road map. Though by 2030 the ICE engines would also substantially grow, the focus of the car maker would change to EVs. It will be a game changer in terms of technology, so if you are making an engine or its spare parts now then you’ve got to be feeling threatened for the long-term future,” said a top executive of a major component manufacturing company.

But some are ready for the challenge.

Mahindra Group’s auto component arm Mahindra CIE Automotive Ltd “is prepared for the EV drive and will continue to watch the trend,” according to its chairman Hemant Luthra.

Almost 9% of Mahindra CIE’s components in India go into ICEs, while the global share is 19%.

“There has been an internal realization that these shares must be reduced,” said Luthra, adding that the government’s announcement has alerted the firm to channel research and development (R&D) efforts towards EVs.

The long-term investment in the automobile component industry means a period of five years and some manufacturers of rubber tubes, air filters and pistons are in a quandary over whether to go in for improving their manufacturing capacities or not.

“It has also made us sensitive to the fact that our acquisitions should not be overly dependent on IC Engines,” he added.

The Mumbai-based automobile manufacturer is a “strong supporter of electrification, and has the engineering talent and R&D capability to design EV components,” according to Luthra. “Not much capacity addition is required since existing machining systems can address EV requirements; besides, it doesn’t make sense to put up a production line solely for EVs, given the low volumes,” he added.

Manav Kapur, executive director Steelbird International Ltd, New Delhi-based rubber and filter component manufacturer, thinks that the auto component industry is headed for total disruption with the impending changeover.

“With the reduced complexity, a very limited number of components and low maintenance cost of the EVs, the number of jobs lost could be as high as 80% at the auto components manufacturers and automotive workshops level,” said Kapur.

Analysts say a lot of the apprehensions are unfounded because the demand for IC engine-run vehicles will grow in the next decade-and-a-half despite a shift to electric vehicles. In order to cater to the demand, component manufacturers will have to invest in their existing business and increase capacity.

For example Maruti Suzuki has told its vendors to increase their respective capacities in Gujarat in the near term since the company is looking at a target of selling 2.5 million vehicles by 2025. In that case, the component manufacturers will have to invest more.

Anurag Mehrotra, managing director, Ford India Pvt. Ltd, said that full electrification will not happen in the near future and that IC engines are going to be in the play. Besides, there will be export opportunities for component manufacturers. In the last twelve to eighteen months, there has been some aggressive positioning by Indian automotive companies for exports.

A senior industry executive said the automobile industry, unlike the electronics manufacturing industry, has not re-invented itself in the past two decades, which is why the prospects of disruption is making it jittery.

For some manufacturers, the emergence of electric vehicles as a category will provide new avenues where they can explore new opportunities.

According to Vivek Chaand Sehgal, chairman, Samvardhana Motherson Group, a Noida-based auto component manufacturer, whether it is the core business or readying for technology- driven innovations like connected cars, electrification of vehicles or light weighting, the concentration is on providing solutions that customers need.

“Towards this, there is a three-pronged approach—to do things within the group, to join hands with partners through joint ventures or explore acquisitions, all of them leading back to the philosophy of providing solutions when the customer needs it,” added Sehgal.

Indian component manufacturers have to collaborate with companies who have the requisite technologies and embrace them, or run the risk of losing their turf, especially to Chinese companies, according to the ACMA presentation to NITI Aayog.

[“Source-ndtv”]

RBI’s New Norms On Bad Loans A Wake Up Call For Defaulters, Says Government

Image result for RBI's New Norms On Bad Loans A Wake Up Call For Defaulters, Says Government

Banks will face penalties in case of failure to comply with the guidelines, RBI said.

New Delhi: In a bid to hasten the resolution of bad loans, RBI has tightened rules to make banks identify and tackle any non-payment of loan rapidly, a move the government said should act as a “wake up call” for defaulters. The Reserve Bank of India abolished half a dozen existing loan-restructuring mechanisms late last night, and instead provided for a strict 180-day timeline for banks to agree on a resolution plan in case of a default or else refer the account for bankruptcy.

Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar said the new rules are a “wake up call” for defaulters.

“The government is determined to clean up things in one go and not defer it. It is a more transparent system for resolution,” he said,” he told PTI here.

Under the new rules, insolvency proceedings would have to be initiated in case of a loan of Rs. 2,000 crore or more if a resolution plan is not implemented within 180 days of the default.

Banks will face penalties in case of failure to comply with the guidelines, RBI said.

Financial Services Secretary said the RBI’s decision would not have much impact on provisioning norms for banks.

The revised framework has specified norms for “early identification” of stressed assets, timelines for implementation of resolution plans, and a penalty on banks for failing to adhere to the prescribed timelines.

RBI has also withdrawn the existing mechanism which included Corporate Debt Restructuring Scheme, Strategic Debt Restructuring Scheme (SDR) and Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A).

The Joint Lenders’ Forum (JLF) as an institutional mechanism for resolution of stressed accounts also stands discontinued, it said, adding that “all accounts, including such accounts where any of the schemes have been invoked but not yet implemented, shall be governed by the revised framework”.

Under the new rules, banks must report defaults on a weekly basis in the case of borrowers with more than Rs. 5 crore of loan. Once a default occurs, banks will have 180 days within which to come up with a resolution plan. Should they fail, they will need to refer the account to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) within 15 days.

Last year, the government had given more powers to the RBI to push banks to deal with non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans.

The gross NPAs of public sector and private sector banks as on September 30, 2017 were Rs.7,33,974 crore, Rs. 1,02,808 crore respectively.

“In view of the enactment of the IBC, it has been decided to substitute the existing guidelines with a harmonised and simplified generic framework for resolution of stressed assets,” RBI said in the notification.

As per the revised guidelines, the banks will be required to identify incipient stress in loan accounts, immediately on default, by classifying stressed assets as special mention accounts (SMAs) depending upon the period of default.

Classification of SMA would depend on the number of days (1- 90) for which principal or interest have remained overdue.

“As soon as there is a default in the borrower entity’s account with any lender, all lenders – singly or jointly – shall initiate steps to cure the default,” RBI said.

The resolution plan (RP) may involve any actions/plans/ reorganisation including, but not limited to, regularisation of the account by payment of all over dues by the borrower entity, sale of the exposures to other entities/investors, change in ownership, or restructuring.

The notification said that if a resolution plan in respect of large accounts is not implemented as per the timelines specified, lenders will be required to file insolvency application, singly or jointly, under the IBC, 2016, within 15 days from the expiry of the specified timeline.

All lenders are required to submit report to Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC) on a monthly basis effective April 1, 2018.

In addition, the lenders shall report to CRILC, all borrower entities in default (with aggregate exposure of Rs. 5 crore and above), on a weekly basis, at the close of business every Friday, or the preceding working day if Friday happens to be a holiday.

The first such weekly report shall be submitted for the week ending February 23, 2018, the notification said.

The new guidelines have specified framework for early identification and reporting of stressed assets.

In respect of accounts with aggregate exposure of the lenders at Rs. 2,000 crore and above, on or after March 1, 2018 (reference date), resolution plan RP should be implemented within 180 days.

“If in default after the reference date, then 180 days from the date of first such default,” the notification said.

[“Source-ndtv”]

RBI’s New Rules On Soured Loans To Shoot Provisioning Costs, Say Experts

RBI's New Rules On Soured Loans To Shoot Provisioning Costs, Say Experts

Bank shares slid 1.4% on Wednesday compared with a 0.4% fall in the broader market.

Mumbai: Just when many banks thought the worst of their bad debt woes were behind them, new central bank rules are stoking fears that the worst of the soured-loans buildup is yet to come.

The central bank surprised the financial sector this week by halting all of its existing loan-restructuring mechanisms with immediate effect, and rolling out new rules that will push more debt defaulters into bankruptcy courts.

To force its point home, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) set strict timelines for lenders to take action against defaulters, threatening penalties if banks failed to act in a timely manner.

Soured loans, which include non-performing, restructured or rolled-over loans, reached a record high of Rs. 9.5 lakh crore ($148 billion) in the middle of last year before dipping slightly and prompting some relief among bankers that the worst was over. State-run lenders account for the bulk of these loans.

The country’s bad loans have nearly doubled in the past four years following an economic slowdown and years of profligate lending – the combination has choked new lending and dragged on the economy.

Analysts say the actual level of bad loans is higher than the official figures suggest, pointing to central bank audits of banks, including State Bank of India, that showed non-performing loans were higher than reported for the financial year ended March 2017. Banks have also been blamed for perpetually renewing loans on soured assets.

Most of the loan-restructuring schemes that the central bank is withdrawing have seen little success. Analysts say banks will soon have to declare the loans in those schemes as non-performing loans, which will trigger the timeline for banks to take debtors to court.

That means the banking sector will have to recognise the new status of the loans and make provisions for them, said Rajkiran Rai, chief executive at state-run Union Bank of India.

“When you look at the short term, yes, we will have issues with the existing accounts,” Rai said.

Longer term, the RBI’s measure will benefit banks, he said.

Indeed, the new rules would bring discipline to the banking sector, although provisioning costs will shoot up as more borrowers are taken to court, said R. Subramaniakumar, chief executive at Indian Overseas Bank, a state-run lender with the second-highest bad loan ratio among all banks.

“Of course it’s going to put pressure on bank’s balance sheets,” he said, adding capital injections announced by the government will help cushion the impact.

The RBI’s decision to force more struggling borrowers into bankruptcy proceedings was its latest move to try to clean up the bad loans mess.

Last year, it ordered about 40 of the country’s largest debt defaulters into bankruptcy courts, demanding creditors put aside at least 50 per cent of loan amounts in provisioning.

Under the new process, the RBI requires banks to figure out plans to resolve debts of defaulters with Rs. 2,000 crore ($311 million) or more in outstanding debt by September 1, or take them to bankruptcy court.

Since 50 per cent provisioning will be required for these bankruptcy cases as well, the total funds that banks will have to set aside will shoot up, pressuring profits, analysts said.

Moody’s Indian affiliate ICRA estimates the criteria would net 50 defaulting companies with combined outstanding debt of Rs. 2.46 lakh crore ($38 billion), so banks’ credit provisions will spike.

Analyst Udit Kariwala from India Ratings and Research, the local affiliate of Fitch, said banks’ non-performing loans and provisions will shoot up in coming months, said .

Rajeev Kumar, the top government bureaucrat overseeing the banking sector, said the new rules will impact 2-3 per cent of banks’ loan books, while provisions could rise a “little”, financial news service NewsRise reported.

Bank shares slid on Wednesday, with the sector index falling 1.4 per cent compared with a 0.4 per cent fall in the broader market.
[“Source-ndtv”]

Aviva under fire for pouring £370m into Polish coal industry

A lignite-fired power station in Bogatynia, Poland. Aviva is now the second-biggest investor among insurers in the Polish coal industry. Photograph: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

UK insurer Aviva is the second-biggest investor in the Polish coal industry, the most polluting in Europe, according to a report that looks at insurance firms’ involvement in the sector.

Aviva is among a number of major European insurers that are backing the expansion of Poland’s coal industry, undermining international efforts to battle climate change, according to research from Unfriend Coal, a global network of organisations including Greenpeace Switzerland, 350.org and the UK Tar Sands Network.

Aviva has invested £372.7m in Polish coal, more than any other insurance company apart from the Dutch firm Nationale Nederlanden, the report found.

Poland’s coal industry is the second biggest in Europe, after Germany. Pollution from Polish coal is estimated to cause 5,830 premature deaths across Europeevery year, Unfriend Coal said.

The UN recently called for a stop to new coal power plants and an accelerated phase-out of existing ones. But Polish companies are planning to build power plants able to generate more than 10 gigawatts and open new mines holding more than 3.2bn tonnes of lignite, the dirtiest form of coal.

Aviva’s investments are held through its Polish pension fund, OFE Aviva BZ WBK. The fund increased its holdings in Polish coal companies by more than £45m between 2016 and 2017.

It has a 2.3% stake in the country’s largest power company PGE, which operates two of Europe’s most polluting coal plants at Bełchatów and Turów and plans to build new coal plants generating more than 5.2GW.

Peter Bosshard, Unfriend Coal coordinator, said: “Unlike all other insurers which are taking action on coal, Aviva decided to focus on engagement rather than on divestment, and have only divested from very few companies if engagement was completely unproductive.”

Aviva said it invested more than £525m in low-carbon projects such as renewable windfarms and solar energy last year. It added that it engaged with companies that derive more than 30% of revenue from coal to improve their business practices and will divest “where we do not see sufficient movement to transition away from coal”.

“In Poland, local pension companies, including Aviva, manage customers’ assets under a strict regulatory regime and are not able to influence the investment strategy for these. The investment guidelines focus on domestic equity where the energy industry is the second largest after the banking sector,” it said.

European insurers have invested more than £1.15bn in Polish coal companies and have signed at least 21 contracts insuring coal plants since 2013, according to Unfriend Coal.

Europe’s biggest insurer, Allianz, is leading a consortium underwriting the biggest coal power plant under construction in Europe at Opole near Katowice, a PGE project, which is due to start operating next year. The consortium includes Italy’s Generali, Germany’s Munich Re and the Polish insurer PZU.

Allianz said: “We will continue to insure utilities and mining companies when they show an adequate sustainability performance or suitable risk mitigation strategies.”

[“Source-ndtv”]