Indian rupee and U.S. dollar banknotes (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

RBI Eases Norms For Overseas Fundraising

The Reserve Bank on Wednesday eased norms for companies in the manufacturing sector to raise overseas funds and allowed Indian banks to market masala bonds in-line with the government's measures to prop up the rupee.

Following a review of the economy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, the government announced an array of measures to check the decline of rupee and curb the widening current account deficit. Liberalisation of the external commercial borrowing norms was among other measures announced by the government.

“It has been decided, in consultation with the government, to liberalise some aspects of the ECB policy including policy on rupee denominated bonds (Masala Bonds)...,” RBI said in a notification. As per the revised policy, eligible ECB borrowers in the manufacturing sector, will be allowed to raise up to $50 million or its equivalent with a minimum average maturity period of 1 year. Earlier the average minimum maturity period was three years.

The central bank has also made changes in norms wherein Indian banks can market masala bonds overseas. Presently, Indian banks can act only as arranger or underwriter for such bonds and in case of underwriting an issue, their holding cannot be more than 5 percent of the issue size after 6 months of issue.

Now, the banks can “participate as arrangers/underwriters/market makers/traders in Rupee Denominated Bonds issued overseas subject to applicable prudential norms,” the notification said.

The rupee has been losing value against the U.S. dollar, and had almost touched 73 on Tuesday.