Following the notification, general insurers would now have to file the draft agreement of the proposed merger with IRDA and also the respective balance sheet while seeking approval from the regulator
New Delhi: The Insurance Regulatory Authority of India (IRDA) has notified the merger and acquisition (M&A) guidelines for general insurance companies thereby paving way for consolidation in the sector, reports PTI.
The regulation-Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Scheme of Amalgamation and Transfer of General Insurance Business) Regulations, 2011-would apply to all private general insurance companies with immediate effect.
With more than 10 years after opening up of the insurance sector, the regulations would pave way for M&As between 20 private sector players, most of who have foreign investment that is capped at 26%.
Following this, the general insurers would now have to file the draft agreement of the proposed merger with IRDA and also the respective balance sheet while seeking approval from the regulator.
The regulator has retained with itself the power to vet the valuations arrived at by the companies involved in M&As, saying that the authority would carry out an independent valuation of the insurance business of the transacting parties to arrive at the valuation.
In order to safeguard policyholders' interest, IRDA has mandated the insurers to inform their respective customers about the deal, it said.
Besides IRDA, an acquirer would need to have approvals from the Reserve Bank of India and the finance ministry, in case it has foreign direct investment. It also needs to have clearance of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
According to industry players, most of the private sector general insurance companies require fresh infusion of capital which may come from foreign partners, who have been constrained by the FDI cap. The Bill to raise the FDI ceiling is pending in Parliament.
The general insurance business has remained loss making for want of capital, which is constrained due cap on foreign capital infusion.
Till now, the Insurance Act provided for the M&As only for life insurance companies.
The company was being probed for various violations of rules between April 2007 and March 2009. These included lack of documentary proof for a branch office, collection of excess securities transaction tax and collection of cheque in the name of Reliance Money, among other irregularities
Mumbai: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) today agreed to settle a probe against Reliance Securities (RSL) for a suspected breach of regulations, after the Anil Ambani group firm offered to pay Rs25 lakh among various settlement terms, reports PTI.
Brokerage firm RSL will also not register any new clients for the next 45 days and would spend Rs1 crore on investor education and awareness programs, as per the terms of the settlement with SEBI.
The company was being probed for alleged violations of rules concerning code of conduct for brokerage entities between the period from April 2007 and March 2009.
SEBI said that its inspection of the books of RSL for the aforesaid period prima facie revealed various irregularities.
These included lack of documentary proof for a branch office, collection of excess securities transaction tax and collection of cheque in the name of Reliance Money (another group company), among other irregularities.
Reacting to the SEBI consent order, an out-of-court like settlement procedure, the company said that the consent was reached at voluntarily without admission or denial of guilt.
The company adopted the consent route voluntarily to avoid long drawn litigation, legal costs, etc, RSL said, while adding that the order would not have any impact on its existing customers. It also said that it voluntarily agreed to all the terms of the settlement.
"RSL voluntarily agreed to spend Rs1 crore on investor education and awareness programs. RSL has already announced extensive Investor Awareness Program to cover over 1.5 lakh investors across 200 cities in India within this year," it added.
Earlier in January, two other Anil Ambani group firms Reliance Infra and Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL) had reached a settlement with SEBI after paying consent charges of Rs50 crore for settling a probe into alleged unfair market dealings by the two firms.
Besides, the two companies also agreed to abstain from investing in secondary market till 2012, while their top officials, including chairman Anil Ambani, agreed to abstain from investing in secondary market till December 2011.
SEBI said that its probe into RSL also prima facie found irregularities like the company not informing its clients about changes in their registration, which led to large number of investor complaints.
Also, frequent disruptions were noticed in internet trading platform, while the company was found to be equipped for handling only 50% of its customer base, while it issued undated letters at times to different organisations.
Also, RSL did not update its client master data despite being pointed out by the stock exchanges BSE and NSE and took power of attorney in the name of Reliance Commodities.
In other suspected violation of rules, RSL did not maintain clear segregation between broking and other activities of the group, did not take adequate steps to redress complaints within 30 days, outsourced its call centre activities for calls related to phone trading.
Also, the company used the name 'Reliance Money' at various places, thus creating a confusion about the identity of the registered entity.
After noticing these irregularities, SEBI began its enquiry as also cease and desist proceedings and a show cause notice was issued on 31 August 2010.
Subsequently, RSL requested on 14 September 2010 for a settlement through a consent order and later submitted its revised settlement offer on 7 December 2010.
A high-powered advisory committee of SEBI accepted the terms of conditions for the settlement and the same was informed to the company on 19 April 2011.
The company paid Rs25 lakh towards settlement fees and expenses on 1st June, paving the way for the consent order being passed today, SEBI said.
The regulator said that the consent order was without prejudice to its right to take enforcement action, including commencement or reopening of the pending proceedings, against the company.
It appears from complaints that names may be included among list of defaulters due to inaccuracies in the details submitted by institutions to the credit information bureau
How many of us have had applications for loans rejected by banks because our names figure in the default list of the Credit Information Bureau of India (CIBIL) which provides reports on commercial and retail borrowers? There would be quite a few cases. But it also appears that a number of names may have been included in the list due to inaccuracies in the details reported.
It has been revealed in a series of such instances that customers themselves are unaware of their loan repayments and defaults, which leads to such rejections of loan applications. Therefore, it is necessary that they should be more vigilant about their credit history.
Take the case of Delhi-based Mr Khanna, whose name appeared in the defaulter's list. His credit card application was rejected four times. The reason? His name was on the CIBIL list. So, Mr Khanna decided to get a copy of his credit report from CIBIL. He was assured he would receive a copy within 15 days, but even after 20 days there was nothing. Then, after numerous e-mails and phone calls, he was able to collect the package containing his credit report from the local post office. (Mr Khanna's full name has been withheld on his request.)
Mr Khanna explains that he was marked out with a credit default that happened when the credit card issuing company did not send him the bill on time and the payment was delayed. "I have three other credit cards. I also have a loan that is being paid on time. Just this one instance has resulted in my name being entered in the defaulters list. The trace of the actual start of default is not given, whereas monthly charges as per the agency are given. This might see the payment default amount increasing on a monthly basis and there is a likely scenario for a credit card default case."
CIBIL has maintained that it does not make changes to any information on its own. It is only a custodian of information received from credit institutions. Clearly, in the case of Mr Khanna there was no fault of CIBIL. Rather, it is probably the bank that has not updated its records. Blaming CIBIL for late receipt of the credit report may also not be justified as they are sent by Speed Post.
"CIBIL is not a defaulters list. This is a very common misconception. It is an information repository of both positive and negative information about the borrower, pertaining to individuals who are making their payments on time, as well as those who are in default," a CIBIL official told Moneylife, in response to an e-mail.
Mr Khanna's is not the only complaint. There are several complaints regarding credit reports. A majority of the complaints are about the difficulty in getting the reports within a stipulated time and the errors in the data. There are also complaints about a mismatch in the PAN numbers, names and address.
Other complaints relate to details such as outstanding loan, credit card default, which are often incorrect, resulting inclusion in the defaulter's list. People also complain that changing the status of the report or some details, like updating the loan record from 'outstanding' to 'written off', is again a task in itself.
However, industry experts believe that people must be more vigilant about their credit history. For instance, an individual should regularly check whether the bank is sending correct data on loan repayments, credit card payments and so on, because CIBIL gets its data from the lenders.
The credit information institution says, "CIBIL collects and maintains records of an individual's payments pertaining to loans and credit cards. These records are submitted to CIBIL by banks and other lenders. These organisations are members of CIBIL on a monthly basis."
Aparna Ramachandra, managing partner, Rectify India, speaking to Moneylife, explained some cases. "Maruti Sharma faced a problem with his report because his PAN number did not match. Biraj Saxena had closed his loan but his status continued to show the loan as outstanding. CIBIL changed this immediately after we approached them."
Ms Ramachandra also explained that there must be some amount of onus on the customer as well. "For instance, when a PAN card is lost, most people apply for a fresh PAN number instead of getting a card on the old number. This adds to the chaos," she said.
A CIBIL official explained to Moneylife, "Once CIBIL receives the CIR request application form, the fees and the requisite identity proof and address proof documents, a mandatory 'Know Your Customer' check is made on the applicant and the CIR is delivered within 10 business days."
It explained, "In the cited example of your reader, his CIR will reflect the information reported to CIBIL by the credit grantor. If the reader would like to dispute this information then CIBIL can help him and coordinate with the credit grantor for this through our 'dispute resolution' process. Data is submitted to CIBIL by its member institutions on a monthly basis with due quality checks. CIBIL also ensures that high levels of data quality are maintained in its database through is data quality monitoring process. CIBIL's consumer relations service is completely at the consumer's behest on all working days (Monday to Friday-10am to 6pm)."