RBI hikes interest rates on NRE and FCNR (B) deposits

The hike in rates is intended to make such funds more attractive at a time when the rupee has depreciated sharply during last few months

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday hiked interest rates on Non-Resident (External) rupee term deposits and Foreign Currency Non-Resident (Banks) deposits, a move expected to increase the flow of foreign exchange amid the weakening domestic currency, reports PTI.

“Interest rates on fresh Non-Resident (External) rupee (NRE) term deposits for 1-3 years maturity should not exceed the LIBOR/SWAP rates plus 275 basis points, as on the last working day of the previous month, for US dollar of corresponding maturities,” the RBI said in a notification.

The interest rates will also be applicable to deposits with the maturity period exceeding three years and to deposits renewed after their present maturity period.

The interest rate on NRE deposits was LIBOR/SWAP rates, plus 175 basis points since November 2008.

The LIBOR rate is the average interest rate that leading banks in London charge when lending to other banks. The SWAP rate is the exchange rate associated with the fixed portion of a currency swap.

The revised rate will come into force with immediate effect.

“Interest rate on FCNR (B) deposits of all maturities contracted effective from the close of business in India as on 23 November 2011, will be within the ceiling rate of LIBOR/ SWAP rates plus 125 basis points for the respective currency/ corresponding maturities,” RBI further said.

The interest rate on these deposits was earlier LIBOR/ SWAP rates plus 100 basis points.

The hike in rates is intended to make such funds more attractive at a time when the rupee has depreciated sharply during last few months.

Falling for the eighth day in a row, the Indian rupee on Wednesday closed at 52.35/36—its all-time closing low—against the US dollar amid continuing signs of capital outflows and steep fall in stock markets.

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RBI liberalises currency swap hedging limits for companies

As per the guidelines issued in 2010, no limit was placed for undertaking swaps to facilitate customers to hedge their foreign exchange exposures, but a “limit of $100 million was placed for net supply of foreign exchange in the market on account of swaps which facilitate customers to assume foreign currency liability”

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday revised guidelines on foreign exchange derivative contracts, removing the cap of $100 million net limit by a bank on swap transactions, reports PTI.

The move will help companies to increase net supply of foreign currency.

“On a review, it has been decided to remove the above limit of $100 million placed for these swap transactions,” the RBI said in a notification.

As per the guidelines issued in 2010, swap transactions by banks acting as intermediaries were allowed by matching the requirements of corporate counter-parties.

While no limit was placed for undertaking swaps to facilitate customers to hedge their foreign exchange exposures, a “limit of $100 million was placed for net supply of foreign exchange in the market on account of swaps which facilitate customers to assume foreign currency liability”.

That means each bank had to observe a net limit of $100 million when exposure of all such swaps are combined.

According to experts, the move is intended to allow banks to sell more currency swaps to companies with overseas debt at a time when the currency market is highly volatile.

RBI had in December 2010 issued final guidelines on Over the Counter Foreign Exchange Derivatives and Overseas Hedging of Commodity and Freight Prices. The norms came into effect from February this year.

RBI had allowed companies having net worth of Rs100 crore to enter such contracts. However, companies were not allowed to write options on a stand-alone basis or enter into options such as leveraged structures and barrier options.

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Small investor requests SEBI to take action in India Foils merger case

 According to the minority shareholder, the orders issued by BIFR for merger of India Foils with Ess Dee are beyond the powers of the reconstruction board

Nagpur-based Laxmi Girish Jalan has requested the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to initiate action against orders passed by the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) in the India Foils case as these orders are beyond the powers and authority (ultra vires) of BIFR. Mrs Jalan, in a notice sent through her counsel Sandeep Jalan, also said that she may approach the Bombay High Court, in case SEBI fails to respond.

In what appears to be another case of absolute apathy and discrimination, minority shareholders have been crying foul about the merger deal between India Foils and Ess Dee Aluminium as they feel the acquirer has put a ridiculously low valuation.

Earlier in September 2010, the BIFR sanctioned and approved the merger of India Foils with Ess Dee in terms of the modified rehabilitation scheme. According to the scheme, India Foils’ shareholders were offered a share-swap ratio of 1285:1. This also meant that India Foils’ shareholders would surrender their 1,285 shares to get a single share of Ess Dee. Apparently, Mumbai-based chartered accountant firm, MP Chitale & Co, did this incredible valuation for the merger.

In November 2008, Ess Dee bought a majority stake in India Foils for Rs130 crore from the Anil Agrawal-led Vedanta Group as part of the rehabilitation scheme approved by the BIFR. However, advocate Mr Jalan has objected to the scheme of rehabilitation saying that BIFR cannot change ownership of a company. “According to Section 18 of the Sick Industrial Company (SIC) Act, among other things, the proposed scheme may provide for financial reconstruction, change or appointment of new board of directors, etc. While looking at, all the provisions of section 18 of SIC Act, 1985, it is nowhere provided that the ownership of the sick industrial company can be changed, save, by way of amalgamation,” he said in the notice, a copy of which is with Moneylife.

Mr Jalan said, the amalgamation ordered between India Foils and Ess Dee was ‘absolutely unwarranted’ and there was no ‘cause of action’ for the BIFR to exercise its jurisdiction. “The clause of SIC Act, 1985 does not contemplate the nature of amalgamation effected between sick India Foils and Ess Dee and the said amalgamation, in particularly frustrates the mandate of Section 18(3)(a) of the SIC Act, 1985 and Regulation 30 of BIFR Regulations 1987,” the notice said.

Some years ago, Kumar Mangalam Birla, who controls Hindustan Aluminium, almost bought India Foils, the Kolkata-based aluminium foil-maker. His team took a close look at the books of the company and balked. Then a more intrepid and ambitious businessman jumped in—Anil Agarwal of Sterlite. He is more adept at wading through the mess and fixing it—or so he thought. But even he gave up. Finally, it was left to the local boy who had made it good in Mumbai to come back and invest in his home state. Sudip Datta of Ess Dee Aluminium took over India Foils, a sick company, from Anil Agarwal for Rs130 crore.

After relisting it in June 2009, India Foils’ shares last traded on the Bombay Stock Exchange on 22nd October at Rs5.12 apiece.

 

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