Thursday, January 08, 2015
Reserve Bank of India breathes fresh life into infrastructure projects
Extends alignment of debt repayment with cash flows to existing projects
Projects qualify for flexible financing option when the aggregate exposure of all institutional lenders exceeds Rs 500 crore
These guidelines allow the same set of lenders to refinance unlike the earlier requirement where 25% of lenders had to be new
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed flexible financing options for existing projects in the infrastructure sector and heavy industry. The revised guidelines will allow infra companies to align debt repayment with cash flows generated during the economic life of the project.
The facility was earlier available only for new projects.
A host of power and road projects which are not yet classified as non-performing asset (NPA) will get a fresh lease of life as a result of this regulation.
B K Batra, deputy managing director, IDBI Bank, told dna, "Many road and power projects will benefit out of these regulations. Earlier regulations required fresh set of lenders for refinancing but these guidelines allow the same set of lenders to refinance unlike the earlier requirement where 25% of lenders had to be new. Now, the refinancing period can be up to 85% of the economic life of the infrastructure project."
Projects qualify for flexible financing option when the aggregate exposure of all institutional lenders exceeds Rs 500 crore. Banks can now fix a fresh loan repayment schedule for the existing loan once during the lifetime of the project, after the date of commencement of commercial operations (DCCO) provided that loans are not restructured once and the net present value of the loan remains same before and after the change in loan amortisation schedule.
Ashutosh Khajuria, president treasury and credit, Federal Bank, told dna, "It will resuscitate many projects in the power and road sector. Only projects which have not defaulted in repayments to the banks will be eligible for refinance."
The Fresh Loan Amortisation Schedule should be for 85% of the economic life of the project in case of infrastructure projects under public private partnership (PPP) model; or 85% of the initial economic life envisaged at the time of project appraisal for determining the user charges / tariff in case of non-PPP infrastructure projects; or 85% of the initial economic life envisaged at the time of project appraisal by lenders' independent engineer in the case of other core industries projects.
Banks will also be allowed to refinance the project periodically even after 5 to 7 years after the project has commenced commercial operations. The repayments at the end of each refinancing period could be structured as bullet repayments.
If the project term loan or refinancing debt facility becomes an NPA at any stage, further refinancing should stop, and the bank which holds the loan when it becomes NPA would be required to recognise the loan and make necessary provisions. Once the account comes out of NPA status, it will be eligible for refinancing, as per new rules.
Banks will be initially allowed to count the cash flows from periodic amortisations of loans as also the bullet repayment of the outstanding debt at the end of each refinancing period for their asset-liability management; however, with experience gained, banks will be required in due course to conduct behavioural studies of cash flows in such amortisation of loans.