Consistent with India’s ambitious climate-related targets, significant investments are being made in the domestic renewable energy sector, driven largely by private sector activity. Acquisitions and bonds represent a large portion of this capital, along with foreign equity, traditional loans, and mezzanine financing. Enabled by an encouraging FDI regime as well as locally-targeted regulatory schemes – such as incentives introduced by the government to bolster domestic capacity and manufacturing – self-sufficiency and foreign capital now constitute an integrated ecosystem. Along with conventional means of financing, newer frameworks such as infrastructure investment trusts specifically set up in the renewables space could be better explored in the future, especially in light of the urgency with which India needs to catch up towards its climate targets. Legislative changes in respect of the power markets – such as those related to trading in renewable energy certificates (RECs) – may also be curated by appropriate regulatory bodies to expand upon existing revenue streams.
The enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC”) marked a historic shift in India’s insolvency regime shifting the focus from recovery to resolution. The Bankruptcy Law Reform Committee (“BLRC”) reports highlighted the need for the legislative policy to initiate a resolution process at the instance of default to prevent erosion of value. Keeping this objective in mind, the IBC lays out a party driven process which places the creditors at the helm of the resolution procedure.
The Supreme Court of India (“Supreme Court”) has repeatedly held that keeping in mind the objectives of the IBC, the adjudicating authority at the stage of admission into the corporate insolvency resolution process needs to restrict its analysis to: (1) the existence of debt and (2) default in payment of debt. However, on July 12, 2022, the Supreme Court in Vidarbha Industries Power Limited v. Axis Bank Limited (“Vidarbha”), relying on the use of the word “may” in the relevant statutory provision, applied the literal interpretation test and held that National Company Law Tribunal has the discretion to admit an application after it is satisfied regarding the existence of debt.
This judgment, which departs from precedent, could have serious consequences for the insolvency regime in India. This note discusses the implications of a literal interpretation test in context of Vidarbha and highlights the need for an intervention to avoid the mistakes of the past.
‘Corporate’ Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) – as opposed to traditional models of energy procurement by state-owned electricity distribution companies – have proliferated over the past few years. With respect to renewable energy (RE) in particular, India appears to have witnessed one of the largest spikes in the world. Why are so many corporate PPAs getting signed here? Why now, and why specifically with respect to RE? Will this trend continue, and if so, what are the things to look out for? This note seeks to address such questions, including in light of recent (and anticipated) legislative and regulatory developments.
India appears to be on the right track in respect of its accelerated pivot towards renewable energy (RE). However, going by present trends, national capacity-addition with regard to RE is not even close to the annual rate required for achieving its ambitious climate-related targets. Even as the country remains poised to witness a massive increase in electricity demand over the next few decades, in order to remain on a sustainable path, it needs much more funding than what is available in the current policy environment. Further, significant foreign investment is essential to address a developmental change as paradigmatic as achieving carbon-neutrality, especially given the country’s fundamental anxieties related to local industry and energy security. While its climate-related initiatives have mainly been funded through domestic capital so far, India now requires, in addition, both capital and technology from outside. Accordingly, sovereign and international development finance institutions, as well as foreign lenders and investors, need to play a key role towards funding India’s clean energy transition, over and above the government’s own legislative and regulatory interventions.
ESG ratings and third-party data products have played an important role in the ESG ecosystem so far, especially in the absence of consistent and comparable issuer disclosures. Even though investors are increasingly relying on the ESG ratings to determine a company’s performance on ESG issues and to gauge the ESG related risks, the current rating systems have low reliability due to the lack of transparency and inconsistency in rating methodologies. To address these deficiencies, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (“IOSCO”) tabled a report on ESG Ratings and Data Products Providers (“IOSCO Report”), encouraging individual jurisdictions to adopt a global reporting baseline for investor oriented ESG rating system. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) has released a consultation paper dated January 24, 2022, on ESG Rating Providers for Securities Markets (“Consultation Paper”) taking into account the recommendations made to the regulators in the IOSCO Report. This note aims at understanding the concept of ESG ratings and the need for their regulation. This note further explains (i) the issues in the current system of ESG ratings being provided by ERPs as identified by SEBI in its Consultation Paper; and (ii) the framework being proposed in the Consultation Paper to develop a legal regime for regulation of ERPs in India.
On August 29, 2022, the Delhi High Court set aside an arbitral award from 2015 issued by the International Chamber of Commerce in the Antrix-Devas dispute. While the High Court’s verdict is being hailed as a significant win for the Indian government, it is also time that India became more proactive in global debates related to foreign investment and learnt how to avoid such defensive situations in the first place. This note discusses why India should start asserting itself as a key player in the international investment regime and identifies the areas in which it has been falling short in this regard, including, in particular, in respect of its corresponding dispute resolution system.
On August 22, 2022, the Government of India notified the new regime for overseas investments by Indian entities and individuals. The new regime is a mixed bag of liberalizations, new restrictions and clarifications, and signals the revised thinking of the Reserve Bank of India in certain respects, particularly in relation to the scope of overseas investments and round tripping. This note discusses the changes introduced by the new regime and its impact on cross border transactions.
There is, often, a complex interplay between transnational legal standards for the enforcement of commercial contracts and various domestic legislations. One such category of legislations in India which affects, and sometimes delays, the enforcement of arbitration agreements are legislations relating to collection of stamp duty, in particular the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and certain state-specific legislations relating to collection of stamp duty (collectively, the “Stamp Duty Law”). Under the Stamp Duty Law, an insufficiently stamped instrument is liable to be impounded. Further, until such an instrument is sufficiently stamped, the instrument remains inadmissible in evidence. What then is the fate of an arbitration clause within an instrument that is either not stamped or insufficiently stamped? Will the relevant authority before which such instrument is presented under the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 refuse to refer the parties to arbitration; appoint an arbitrator; grant interim relief sought by the party? Or, would the separability doctrine (that an arbitration agreement is separate and distinct from the substantive contract in which it is contained) salvage such an arbitration clause?
Material Adverse Effect (“MAE”) clauses are once again in focus with the recent Musk-Twitter dispute arising from the termination of the transaction related to the acquisition of Twitter on MAE grounds. This note discusses certain issues relating to MAE clauses from a practical perspective in an M&A setting and how these clauses have been interpreted by courts in the past.
With the recent auction and sale of media rights of the Indian Premier League (“IPL”) by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (“BCCI”) for over INR 480 billion (approximately USD 6 billion), IPL franchises are in the spotlight. Reports suggest that certain IPL franchise owners may look to capitalize on an improved valuation, and either sell a part (or all) of their shareholding in the legal entity that has bid for and owns the IPL franchise, or may even consider a public listing of such legal entity. In this note, we look at key legal due diligence issues that may arise in connection with transactions involving IPL franchises.