Monday, September 02, 2013

Falling rupee to bring windfall for some, companies with overseas arms to get more money
MUMBAI: The fall in the rupee will benefit Indian companies with overseas arms as it will increase the dividend amount that comes into the coffers of the Indian parent without increasing the outgo of the foreign subsidiaries.

"Fall in rupee, extension for one more year of lower tax rate on dividends received by an Indian parent company from its foreign subsidiary during the last Budget and removal of the cascading effect of dividend distribution tax (DDT) on such dividends when the Indian parent declares dividend to its shareholders may come as an advantage for many companies to repatriate reserves lying in overseas subsidiaries through dividends.

However, treasury views and overseas business plans will determine such decisions," said Jayesh Sanghvi, partner and national leader international tax services at Ernst & Young. Two years ago, the government had halved the tax rate on dividend received by an Indian company from its overseas subsidiary to 15% from 30%.

While the window to bring back profits from foreign subsidiaries was initially opened only for 2011-12, in order to continue to encourage repatriation of funds it was extended to 2012-13 and again now to 2013-14. Despite this, the number of companies declaring dividends to their Indian parents has not gone up in the past few years.

However, experts say now may be the time for those companies that have no capex plans abroad to take advantage of the situation and repatriate funds to India. "Taking advantage of the currency fall, it's quite possible that more companies having overseas subsidiaries will decide to bring back money through dividends.

But, everything depends on the business and capex plans of overseas firms," said Andrew Holland, CEO of Ambit Investment Advisors. TCS, India's most valuable company and largest software exporter, received Rs 1,050 crore as dividend from overseas subsidiaries in FY13.

At the current exchange rate, TCSBSE 3.96 % would have received an additional Rs 220 crore. Tata PowerBSE -1.49 %, another group company, too receivedRs 297 crore during the last financial year as dividend from its foreign subsidiary. If the dividend payout had happened today, the company would have netted an additionalRs 80 crore. The rupee has plunged nearly 23% since the beginning of the new financial year.

If more Indian companies decide to repatriate dividends from their overseas arms, this could be another instance of the falling rupee coming to India Inc's rescue. As an ET analysis published on August 28 argued, the plunging rupee has boosted the valuations of the overseas assets of Indian companies and presented big business groups with the opportunity to sell them at hefty premiums if they wish to do so.

Also, as an article published in this newspaper on ET on August 21 ('India's Most Powerful Not Losing Sleep Over Weak Re') demonstrated, 11 companies that account for 45% of the weightage of the BSE Sensex benefit from a falling rupee as the foreign exchange earnings of these firms are greater than their forex spends.

But experts caution that it is not necessary that rupee depreciation will result in heavy dividend inflow into India. "Only companies which do not need capital overseas may shift entire benefits of rupee depreciation to Indian parents. Other firms could retain the funds for reinvestment or for expansion plans," said Avinash Gupta of Deloitte.