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RESERVE BANK OF INDIA

DBR.No.BP.BC.101/21.04.048/2017-18

Dated: February 12, 2018

All Scheduled Commercial Banks
(Excluding Regional Rural Banks (RRB)),
All-India Financial Institutions
(Exim Bank, NABARD, NHB and SIDBI)

Resolution of Stressed Assets - Revised Framework

1. The Reserve Bank of India has issued various instructions aimed at resolution of stressed assets in the economy, including introduction of certain specific schemes at different points of time. In view of the enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), it has been decided to substitute the existing guidelines with a harmonised and simplified generic framework for resolution of stressed assets. The details of the revised framework are elaborated in the following paragraphs.

I. Revised Framework

A. Early identification and reporting of stress

2. Lenders1 shall identify incipient stress in loan accounts, immediately on default2 , by classifying stressed assets as special mention accounts (SMA) as per the following categories:

SMA Sub-categories
Basis for classification -
Principal or interest payment or any other amount wholly or partly overdue between
SMA-0 1-30 days
SMA-1 31-60 days
SMA-2 61-90 days

3. As provided in terms of the circular DBS.OSMOS.No.14703/33.01.001/2013-14 dated May 22, 2014 and subsequent amendments thereto, lenders shall report credit information, including classification of an account as SMA to Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC) on all borrower entities having aggregate exposure3 of Rs. 50 million and above with them. The CRILC-Main Report will now be required to be submitted 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. 50 million and above), on a weekly basis, at the close of business on 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.

B. Implementation of Resolution Plan

4. All lenders must put in place Board-approved policies for resolution of stressed assets under this framework, including the timelines for resolution. 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. The resolution plan (RP) may involve any actions / plans / reorganization 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 restructuring4. The RP shall be clearly documented by all the lenders (even if
there is no change in any terms and conditions).

C. Implementation Conditions for RP

5. A RP in respect of borrower entities to whom the lenders continue to have credit exposure, shall be deemed to be ‘implemented’ only if the following conditions are met:

a. the borrower entity is no longer in default with any of the lenders;

b. if the resolution involves restructuring; then

i. all related documentation, including execution of necessary agreements between lenders and borrower / creation of security charge / perfection of securities are completed by all lenders; and

ii. the new capital structure and/or changes in the terms of conditions of the existing loans get duly reflected in the books of all the lenders and the borrower.

6. Additionally, RPs involving restructuring / change in ownership in respect of ‘large’ accounts (i.e., accounts where the aggregate exposure of lenders is Rs. 1 billion and above), shall require independent credit evaluation (ICE) of the residual debt5 by credit rating agencies (CRAs) specifically authorised by the Reserve Bank for this purpose. While accounts with aggregate exposure of Rs. 5 billion and above shall require two such ICEs, others shall require one ICE. Only such RPs which receive a credit opinion of RP46 or better for the residual debt from one or two CRAs, as the case may be, shall be considered for implementation. Further, ICEs shall be subject to the following:

(a) The CRAs shall be directly engaged by the lenders and the payment of fee for such assignments shall be made by the lenders.

(b) If lenders obtain ICE from more than the required number of CRAs, all such ICE opinions shall be RP4 or better for the RP to be considered for implementation.

7. The above requirement of ICE shall be applicable to restructuring of all large accounts implemented from the date of this circular, even if the restructuring is carried out before the ‘reference date’ stipulated in paragraph 8 below.

D. Timelines for Large Accounts to be Referred under IBC

8. In respect of accounts with aggregate exposure of the lenders at Rs. 20 billion and above, on or after March 1, 2018 (‘reference date’), including accounts where resolution may have been initiated under any of the existing schemes as well as accounts classified as restructured standard assets which are currently in respective specified periods (as per the previous guidelines), RP shall be implemented as per the following timelines:

i) If in default as on the reference date, then 180 days from the reference date.

ii) If in default after the reference date, then 180 days from the date of first such default.

9. If a RP in respect of such large accounts is not implemented as per the timelines specified in paragraph 8, lenders shall file insolvency application, singly or jointly, under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 (IBC)7 within 15 days from the expiry of the said timeline8.

10. In respect of such large accounts, where a RP involving restructuring/change in ownership is implemented within the 180-day period, the account should not be in default at any point of time during the ‘specified period’, failing which the lenders shall file an insolvency application, singly or jointly, under the IBC within 15 days from the date of such default.

‘Specified period’ means the period from the date of implementation of RP up to the date by which at least 20 percent of the outstanding principal debt as per the RP and interest capitalisation sanctioned as part of the restructuring, if any, is repaid.

Provided that the specified period cannot end before one year from the commencement of the first payment of interest or principal (whichever is later) on the credit facility with longest period of moratorium under the terms of RP.

11. Any default in payment after the expiry of the specified period shall be reckoned as a fresh default for the purpose of this framework.

12. For other accounts with aggregate exposure of the lenders below Rs. 20 billion and, at or above Rs. 1 billion, the Reserve Bank intends to announce, over a two-year period, reference dates for implementing the RP to ensure calibrated, time-bound resolution of all such accounts in default.

13. It is, however, clarified that the said transition arrangement shall not be available for borrower entities in respect of which specific instructions have already been issued by the Reserve Bank to the banks for reference under IBC. Lenders shall continue to pursue such cases as per the earlier instructions.

E. Prudential Norms

14. The revised prudential norms applicable to any restructuring, whether under the IBC framework or outside the IBC, are contained in Annex-19 . The provisioning in respect of exposure to borrower entities against whom insolvency applications are filed under the IBC shall be as per their asset classification in terms of the Master Circular on Prudential norms on Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning, as amended from time to time.10

II. Supervisory Review

15. Any failure on the part of lenders in meeting the prescribed timelines or any actions by lenders with an intent to conceal the actual status of accounts or evergreen the stressed accounts, will be subjected to stringent supervisory / enforcement actions as deemed appropriate by the Reserve Bank, including, but not limited to, higher provisioning on such accounts and monetary penalties11 .

III. Disclosures

16. Banks shall make appropriate disclosures in their financial statements, under ‘Notes on Accounts’, relating to resolution plans implemented. Detailed guidelines will be issued separately.

IV. Exceptions

17. Restructuring in respect of projects under implementation involving deferment of date of commencement of commercial operations (DCCO), shall continue to be covered under the guidelines contained at paragraph 4.2.15 of the Master Circular No. DBR.No.BP.BC.2/21.04.048/2015-16 dated July 1, 2015 on ‘Prudential norms on Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning pertaining to Advances’.

V. Withdrawal of extant instructions

18. The extant instructions on resolution of stressed assets such as Framework for Revitalising Distressed Assets, Corporate Debt Restructuring Scheme, Flexible Structuring of Existing Long Term Project Loans, Strategic Debt Restructuring Scheme (SDR), Change in Ownership outside SDR, and Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A) stand withdrawn with immediate effect. Accordingly, the Joint Lenders’ Forum (JLF) as an institutional mechanism for resolution of stressed accounts also stands discontinued. All accounts, including such accounts where any of the schemes have been invoked but not yet implemented, shall be governed by the revised framework.

19. The list of circulars/directions/guidelines subsumed in this circular and thereby stand repealed from the date of this circular is given in Annex - 3.

20. The above guidelines are issued in exercise of powers conferred under Section 35A, 35AA (read with S.O.1435 (E) dated May 5, 2017 issued by the Government of India) and 35AB of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949; and, Section 45(L) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

[RBI/2017-18/131]

See Annex

(Saurav Sinha)
Chief General Manager-in-Charge

____________________________

1 Lenders under these guidelines would generally include all scheduled commercial banks (excluding RRBs) and All India Financial Institutions, unless specified otherwise.

2‘Default’ means non-payment of debt when whole or any part or instalment of the amount of debt has become due and payable and is not repaid by the debtor or the corporate debtor, as the case may be.
For revolving facilities like cash credit, default would also mean, without prejudice to the above, the outstanding balance remaining continuously in excess of the sanctioned limit or drawing power, whichever is lower, for more than 30 days.

3 Aggregate exposure under the guidelines would include all fund based and non-fund based exposure with the lenders.

4 Restructuring is an act in which a lender, for economic or legal reasons relating to the borrower's financial difficulty (An illustrative non-exhaustive list of indicators of financial difficulty are given in the Appendix to Annex-I), grants concessions to the borrower. Restructuring would normally involve modification of terms of the advances / securities, which may include, among others, alteration of repayment period / repayable amount / the amount of instalments / rate of interest; roll over of credit facilities; sanction of additional credit facility; enhancement of existing credit limits; and, compromise settlements where time for payment of settlement amount exceeds three months.

5 The residual debt of the borrower entity, in this context, means the aggregate debt (fund based as well as non-fund based) envisaged to be held by all the lenders as per the proposed RP.

6Annex - 2 provides list of RP symbols that can be provided by CRAs as ICE and their meanings.

7 Applicable in respect of entities notified under IBC.

8 The prescribed timelines are the upper limits. Lenders are free to file insolvency petitions under the IBC against borrowers even before the expiry of the timelines, or even without attempting a RP outside IBC.

9 During the period when the RP is being finalised and implemented, the usual asset classification norms would continue to apply. The process of re-classification of an asset should not stop merely because RP is under consideration.

10 Accounts in respect of which banks have already been specifically issued instructions to initiate insolvency resolution proceedings under the IBC, minimum provisions as already advised shall be maintained.

11 This may be in addition to direction to banks to file insolvency application under the Insolvency and bankruptcy Code 2016.

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