Regulations
RBI allow developers, housing finance companies to raise $1 billion through ECB

The funds raised through ECBs could be used either for developing low cost housing projects or for providing loans up to Rs25 lakh to individuals for buying home with a price tag of Rs30 lakh or less, says the central bank

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed real estate developers and housing finance companies to raise up to $1 billion through external commercial borrowings (ECBs) in the current fiscal to promote low cost housing projects, reports PTI.

 

The funds raised through ECBs could be used either for developing low cost housing projects or for providing loans up to Rs25 lakh to individuals for buying units with a price tag of Rs30 lakhs or less.

 

"It has been decided to allow ECB for low cost affordable housing projects as a permissible end-use, under the approval route. ECB can be availed of by developers/builders," RBI said in a circular.

 

Besides developers, the central bank said housing finance companies (HFCs)/National Housing Bank (NHB) can also raise ECBs for financing prospective owners of low cost, affordable housing units.

 

Slum rehabilitation projects, the circular said will also be eligible for raising ECBs to fund affordable housing projects.

 

ECBs are considered attractive as cost of raising the loan overseas is lower than that of domestic borrowings.

 

Besides, they provide an additional avenue to access large amounts of funds from global financial markets.

 

As per the guidelines, developers/builders with a minimum track record of five years in undertaking residential project will be eligible to raise ECBs.

 

With regard to HFCs, the circular said that only those companies with a minimum paid up capital of Rs50 crore and minimum net owned fund of Rs300 crore would be eligible to raise ECBs.

 

It further said the maximum loan amount for individual buyers should be capped at Rs25 lakh subject to the condition that the cost of the individual housing unit would not Rs30 lakh.

 

On the limit of ECB for promoting low cost affordable projects, RBI said it would be $1 billion for 2012-13 and would be reviewed annually.

 

The initiative follows the announcement made by the government to promote low cost affordable housing in the Budget for 2012-13, it added.

 

The decision to permit developers and HFCs to raise ECBs was taken by the High Level Committee on External Commercial Borrowings in August to reduce the shortage of housing for low income groups in major cities and towns.

 

The Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Association of India (CREDAI), an apex body of the organised real estate developers, had estimated the funding gap in housing sector at around $70 billion in the next five years.

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Axis Capital partners with Baird for cross border M&A

While the initial focus is cross-border M&As, the relationship between Axis Capital and Baird also encompasses other investment banking engagements like public offerings in the US and private placements of equity

Mumbai: Axis Capital, the investment banking arm of Axis Bank, has entered into a strategic alliance with international financial services provider Baird to focus on cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As), reports PTI.

 

Through the exclusive alliance, the two investment banks will enhance their respective M&A offerings by leveraging each one's knowledge of capital markets and specific industry sectors as well as their deep corporate relationships within those sectors, Axis Capital said in a statement.

 

"This strategic alliance broadens Baird's global footprint, further expands our international reach, and enhances our overall M&A franchise by strengthening our ability to serve clients around the world," Baird Investment Banking director Steve Booth said.

 

While the initial focus is cross-border M&As, the relationship between the two also encompasses other investment banking engagements like public offerings in the US and private placements of equity, the statement said.

 

"In the evolving structure of global investment banking where specialised advisory firms are of great value, we believe Baird's ambition to be the best middle market financial services firm in the world matches our ambitions for us," Axis Capital managing director and chief executive officer Manish Chokhani said.

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