Competition Approval in Insolvency Resolutions

Timing of Competition Approval in Insolvency Resolutions: A Need for Greater Clarity in the IBC

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 requires a successful resolution applicant to obtain regulatory approvals for the implementation of a resolution plan. The exact stage at which such regulatory approvals are required was not clear until a new Section 31(4) was introduced by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Act, 2018, which required the necessary regulatory approvals to be obtained within a period of one year from the date of approval of the resolution plan by the National Company Law Tribunal (“Tribunal”) or within such period as provided for in the applicable law, whichever is later.
However, a proviso to Section 31(4) lays down that where the resolution plan contains a provision for combination under the Competition Act, 2002, the resolution applicant is required to obtain the approval of the CCI prior to the approval of such resolution plan by the CoC (“CCI Proviso”). While the requirement under the CCI Proviso is mandatory, certain judgements of the Tribunal/National Company Law Appellate Tribunal have diluted the mandatory effect of the CCI Proviso by treating the CCI Proviso as ‘directory’. This note explores the question as to whether the CCI Proviso serves any useful purpose and is needed at all.


SEBI v. Abhijit Rajan

SEBI v. Abhijit Rajan: A Flawed Interpretation of the Insider Trading Regulations?

In September 2022, the Supreme Court of India in SEBI v. Abhijit Rajan interpreted the insider trading regulation in India to include a ‘profit motive’ as an essential requirement for establishing a charge of insider trading. This note analyzes the Supreme Court judgement and highlights certain issues that arise for consideration following such judgement. 


IBC Distribution Waterfall

Renewed Challenges to the IBC Distribution Waterfall

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC”) ushered in a new era in the Indian insolvency regime by introducing a distribution waterfall mechanism under Section 53 of the IBC. The waterfall mechanism prioritizes dues owed to financial creditors over dues owed to operational creditors and government authorities.
The waterfall mechanism in the IBC is based on the recommendations of the Bankruptcy Law Reforms Committee. The preamble to the IBC also highlights its objective of balancing the interests of the stakeholders, including by alteration in the order of priority of payment of government dues.
There has recently been a rising trend of courts and tribunals seeking to deviate from the distribution waterfall under the IBC. Unfortunately, this tends to put the success of an insolvency resolution process at risk. In this note, we examine three recent examples and discuss why any such deviation could disturb the delicate balance sought to be achieved under the IBC.


rules of overseas investment

Liberalized Rules for Overseas Investment by Indian Entities: Laying the “Round Tripping” Ghost to Rest (or not just yet)

Although the objectives of the erstwhile restriction on “round tripping” were laudable, such restriction had an unintended chilling effect on legitimate transactions. The new overseas investment regime introduced in August 2022 eases such restriction to a large extent. However, certain interpretational issues remain.


Vidarbha Industries v. Axis Bank

Vidarbha Industries v. Axis Bank: An Unsettling Literal Interpretation

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.


overseas investment regime in india

New Overseas Investments Regime in India

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.


Material Adverse Effect

Renewed Spotlight on Material Adverse Effect Clauses following Covid-19 and the Musk-Twitter Dispute

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.


IPL franchise

Transactions involving IPL Franchises: Legal Due Diligence

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.


independent directors

Monitoring Independent Directors: Who Will Guard the Guards?

Since the introduction of the concept of independent directors, it has been perceived as an easy remedy to poor corporate governance. Their efficacy in effectively monitoring company management is often taken at face value. Studying recent instances of corporate governance lapses provides an insight into the efficacy of independent directors. To plug gaps, regulators constantly strive to raise the bar on the relevant criteria for determining the independence, and the procedure for the appointment, of independent directors. However, the changes affected do not appear to address the problem at hand. In the United States, unlike in India, shareholders have often pursued derivative claims against independent directors. While these derivative actions are not always successful, they function as an additional check on independent directors’ actions. Derivative actions are also pursued by shareholders in India. However, they: (a) are rarely pursued against independent directors; and (b) typically arise out of situations where directors have committed a fraud on the shareholders rather than when they have simply failed to perform their duties. For independent directors in India to function as an effective check on management, the threat of shareholder action needs to be a real one.


shareholder activism in india

Shareholder Activism in India: The Zee-Invesco Decision

India has witnessed a significant increase in institutional shareholder activism over the past few years. As a consequence of the rapid rise in shareholder activism, there has been much greater focus on the rights of minority shareholders in relation to a company. In this context, the judgment of the division bench of the Bombay High Court on March 22, 2022 in Invesco Developing Markets Fund v. Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited addresses two key issues: (i) the statutory right of shareholders to call a shareholders’ meeting and (ii) the appropriate judicial forum for such shareholder disputes.