IBC amendment might bar many global PE funds: legal experts

The changes could disqualify many global funds, particularly over a dozen active investors exclusively buying troubled assets.

yellow signboard with "debt" written on it
The amended Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) may shut out several global private equity (PE) funds who have tied up at least $10 billion to invest in Indian non-performing assets, legal experts said. The changes could disqualify many global funds, particularly over a dozen active investors exclusively buying troubled assets. 
 
The amended section 29(A) of IBC applies to bidders “under any law in a jurisdiction outside India”. Any person or entity who has guaranteed the debt of any firm under insolvency or liquidation under any jurisdiction, is barred from bidding for assets under insolvency. Any undischarged insolvent (entity unable to pay off its debt) under any jurisdiction is also barred from bidding for insolvent assets.
 
“This ordinance, if read literally, would in all likelihood disqualify most global private equity funds, especially those specializing in acquiring and financing troubled assets, from submitting a resolution plan under the Code,” said Sanjeet Mallik, partner at Samvad Partners, a law firm. 
 
 According to publicly available data, global PE funds have secured commitments to invest at least $10 billion in distressed assets in India. These include an $825 million fund by US-based Apollo Global Management Llc set up in partnership with ICICI Venture Funds Management Co. Ltd, and a $750 million investment plan by Canada’s CDPQ along with Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd.
 
The connected entity definition includes a “related party”, too. Under IBC, a related party includes a relative of directors and key managerial personnel of corporate debtors and any person who controls more than 20% of voting rights in the debtor. 
 
 “The current situation definitely has serious implications for PE investors who will now be barred from bidding for distressed assets if they are an investor in a defaulting company,” said Anand Bhageria, partner at Singhi Advisors. “However, in many cases, the PE funds are passive investors and had no role into the management of the company, and it remains to be seen whether they are given a waiver in such cases. Also, whether a PE fund can be held liable for guarantees given by a portfolio company to another borrowing entity, needs to be evaluated properly,” he added. 
 
The fund manager of a PE fund, which is an active investor in distressed assets, said he is seeking legal opinion. “It looks like we are conflicted after the ordinance. But for now, we are evaluating the situation and seeking a legal opinion. This would specifically impact Small and Medium Enterprises or SMEs as they anyways do not have buyers,” he said on the condition of anonymity. 
 
Source: Mint
 

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