Banks May Face Challenges From SEBI’s Revised Debt Norms, Says ICRA
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Banks May Face Challenges From SEBI’s Revised Debt Norms, Says ICRA

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Lenders are likely to face challenges in their incremental bond issuances, following the Securities and Exchange Board of India's revised norms on investment by mutual funds in Basel III debt instruments issued by banks, according to ICRA Ratings.

In the last week's revised norms, the capital market regulator said mutual funds across all the schemes would not own more than 10% of the Basel III instruments issued by any bank.

The norms also mention that no more than 10% of Net Asset Value of the debt component of the scheme shall be issued in Basel III instruments and no more than 5% of the NAV of the debt component of the scheme shall be issued in Basel III instruments of a single issuer.

In addition, the valuation of perpetual debt instruments henceforth shall be based on a maturity of 100 years from date of issuance instead of current practice of valuing them on time left for the next call-option date.

ICRA Ratings Group Head of Financial Sector Ratings Karthik Srinivasan said the proposals to limit the composition of the Basel III bonds in overall asset under management could affect incremental investment appetite of AMCs which are closer to 10% of NAV threshold limit for investments in these bonds.

"As mutual funds are large investors in additional tier I (AT-I) and tier II bonds issued by banks, it could possibly make it challenging for the banks to raise their desired quantum of debt capital," Srinivasan said in a report.

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As per the rating agency, mutual funds hold 30% of the outstanding tier I bonds and 14 per cent of the outstanding tier II bonds as of February 2021.

Moreover, the holding of Basel III AT-I and tier II instruments is estimated at 8 per cent of AUMs of the schemes holding these instruments, thereby limiting headroom for incremental investments, it said.

The agency, in its outlook for banking sector for FY22, had estimated the tier I capital requirements for public sector banks at Rs 43,000 crore, of which Rs 23,000 crore is on account of call-options falling due on AT-I bonds of PSBs, while the balance is estimated as the equity.

In the Union Budget for FY22, the government has already announced an allocation of Rs 20,000 crore as equity capital for recapitalisation of PSBs.

If the market of the AT-I bonds remains dislocated for longer period for aforementioned reasons and the PSBs are not able to replace the existing AT-Is with fresh issuance, this would mean that the PSBs could stare at a capital shortfall based on the budgeted capital, it said.

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While there could be challenges in replacing the capital because of this development, the agency continues to factor in the requisite capital support from the government for PSBs to enable these banks to meet the regulatory capital ratios.

Hence, the event is likely to be credit neutral for public banks, it said.

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