Wednesday, November 27, 2013
RBI eases rules for foreign banks’ subsidiarisation
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MUMBAI, 26 November, 2013: The Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday clarified that foreign banks planning to incorporate in the country will be exempted from paying capital gains and stamp duty, a move that will nudge big boys of banking to operate as wholly-owned subsidiaries (WOS).
Foreign banks such as Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank, Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation and Deutsche Bank have been citing such conditions as major impediments for converting to WOS.
"This clarity will help us start the internal decision-making process towards incorporating in the country," said Sanjiv Bhasin, general manager and chief executive officer of DBS Bank, India
It may be recalled that the Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan had suggested ring-fencing of foreign banks' domestic operations from their parents. The central bank received queries from foreign banks regarding capital gains tax and incidence of stamp duty on conversion of existing foreign bank branches into wholly-owned subsidiaries.
"The tax issue is a mechanical issue. It's a good reassurance to foreign banks coming from the banking regulator as the tax authorities could have taken a different view through atax order,'' said Shinjini Kumar, executive director, PwC India. "This may not trigger a change in the strategy of any bank. The factors driving subsidiarisation would be capital requirement, regulatory cost and mandated lending norms. The clarity in taxation will not coax banks to take a positive view on subsidiarisat ..
"It will facilitate transfer of assets, including value of immovable property which otherwise would have involved a huge cost by way of stamp duty to the state government for setting up a subsidiary. It will create an environment for encouraging foreign banks to convert into a subsidiary company in India," said MR Umarji, chief advisor- legal at Indian Banks' Association.
According to the scheme, the four big foreign banks in India — Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank, Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation, and Deutsche Bank -- may escape incorporation based on the date of entry — August 2010. Foreign banks choosing to incorporate in the country will have to maintain a net worth of .`500 crore.
The rules, which the central bank described as a "significant step towards granting foreign banks equal treatment to domestic banks", allow greater leeway to open retail branches and possibly take over Indian institutions. It also allows subsidiary of a foreign bank to list on the local stock exchanges.
As on May 31, 2013, there are 43 foreign banks in India operating through a network of 333 branches.
Meanwhile Indian Banks borrowed 44.9 billion rupees ($718.85 million) from the central bank's marginal standing facility (MSF) window on Nov. 26, sharply lower than the 135.5 billion rupees borrowed on Nov. 25.
The Reserve Bank of India cut the MSF rate by 25 basis points (bps) on Oct. 29 to 8.75 percent. It had raised the rate by 200 bps to 10.25 percent in mid-July.
Banks usually tap the MSF rate during acute cash tightness.