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Business Structuring By Foreign Companies In India
By CA A.K. Jain




Indian business system offers flexible options for Foreign Entrepreneurs intending to venture in India. The applicable provisions concerning  prospective business are outlined here in below:

1. As A Company

A foreign company can commence operations in India by incorporating a company under the Companies Act, 1956 through:

a. Joint Ventures; or

b. Wholly Owned Subsidiaries

Foreign equity in such Indian companies can be up to 100% depending on the requirements of the investor, subject to equity caps in respect of the area of activities under the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy. Details of the FDI policy, sectoral equity caps & procedures can be obtained from Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Government of India (www.dipp.nic.in).

1. (a) Joint Venture With An Indian Partner

Foreign Companies can set up their operations in India by forging strategic alliances with Indian partners.

 Joint Venture may entail the following advantages for a foreign investor:

Established distribution/ marketing set up of the Indian partner
Available financial resource of the Indian partners
Established contacts of the Indian partners which help smoothen the process of setting up of operations.

1. (b) Wholly Owned Subsidiary Company

Foreign companies can also set up wholly owned subsidiary in sectors where 100% foreign direct investment is permitted under the FDI policy.

Incorporation of Company


For registration and incorporation, set of applications have to be filed with Registrar of Companies (ROC). Once a company has been duly registered and incorporated as an Indian company, it is subject to Indian laws and regulations as applicable to other domestic Indian companies.

For details please visit the website of Department of Company Affairs under Ministry of Finance at http://dca.nic.in.

2. As A Foreign Company

Foreign Companies can set up their operations in India through:

Þ    Liaison Office/Representative Office
Þ    Project Office
Þ    Branch Office
Such offices can undertake any permitted activities. Companies have to register themselves with Registrar of Companies (ROC) within 30 days of setting up a place of business in India.

2. (a) Liaison Office/ Representative Office

Liaison office acts as a channel of communication between the principal place of business or head office and entities in India. Liaison office cannot undertake any commercial activity directly or indirectly and cannot, therefore, earn any income in India.

Its role is limited to collecting information about possible market opportunities and providing information about the company and its products to prospective Indian customers. It can promote export/import from/to India and also facilitate technical/financial collaboration between parent company and companies in India. Approval for establishing a liaison office in India is granted by Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

2. (b) Project Office

Foreign Companies planning to execute specific projects in India can set up temporary project/site offices in India. RBI has now granted general permission to foreign entities to establish Project Offices subject to specified conditions. Such offices cannot undertake or carry on any activity other than the activity relating and incidental to execution of the project. Project Offices may remit outside India the surplus of the project on its completion, general permission for which has been granted by the RBI.

2. (c) Branch Office

Foreign companies engaged in manufacturing and trading activities abroad are allowed to set up Branch Offices in India for the following purposes:

  • Export/Import of goods
  • Rendering professional or consultancy services
  • Carrying out research work, in which the parent company is engaged.
  • Promoting technical or financial collaborations between Indian companies and parent or overseas group company.
  • Representing the parent company in India and acting as buying/selling agents in India.
  • Rendering services in Information Technology and development of software in India.
  • Rendering technical support to the products supplied by the parent/ group companies.
  • Foreign airline / shipping company.
A branch office is not allowed to carry out manufacturing activities on its own but is permitted to subcontract these to an Indian manufacturer. Branch Offices established with the approval of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), may remit outside India profit of the branch, net of applicable Indian taxes and subject to RBI guidelines Permission for setting up branch offices is granted by the RBI.

2. (d) Branch Office on “Stand Alone Basis”

Such Branch Offices would be isolated and restricted to the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) alone and no business activity/transaction will be allowed outside the SEZs in India, which include branches/subsidiaries of its parent office in India.

No approval shall be necessary from RBI for a company to establish a branch/unit in SEZs to undertake manufacturing and service activities subject to specified conditions. Application for setting up Liaison Office/ Project Office/ Branch Office may be submitted in form FNC 1 (available at RBI website at www.rbi.org.in).

3. FDI and Technology Collaboration


For both private and public companies, you look for FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) and investment from NRIs (Non Resident Indians), including OCBs (Overseas Corporate Bodies), predominantly owned by NRIs, to complement and supplement domestic investment. You also seek foreign technology collaboration agreements. FDI and foreign technology collaboration are approved either through the automatic route (no prior government approval is necessary) under powers delegated to the RBI (Reserve Bank of India), or the government (government approval is necessary).

Automatic approval FDI

With the government committed to an early implementation of the second phase of reforms and further liberalizing the FDI regime, all items/activities are under the automatic route for FDI/NRI and OCB investment, except the following:

Proposals that require an Industrial Licence, including items requiring Industrial Licence under the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951; more than 24% foreign investment in the equity capital of units manufacturing items reserved for small-scale industries; and items requiring an Industrial Licence under the locational policy notified
by the Government, in the New Industrial Policy, 1991

  • Proposals where the foreign collaborator has a previous venture/tie-up in India
  • Proposals relating to share acquisition in existing Indian companies, by a foreign/NRI/ OCB investor
  • Proposals falling outside the notified sectoral policy/caps or under sectors where FDI is not permitted and/or where the investor chooses the FIPB and not the automatic route.
  • Proposals for investment in public-sector units, or EOU/EPZ/EHTP/STP units, would be in the automatic route, subject to the above parameters.
Foreign technology collaboration agreements

The RBI also gives automatic permission for foreign technology agreements in all areas of electronics provided the technology price does not exceed $2 million and royalty payments don’t exceed 5% of domestic sales and 8% of exports.

Payments are subject to an overall ceiling of 8% of total sales, over a 10-year period from the date of agreement, or a 7-year period, from the date of starting production, whichever is earlier. Investment applications under the automatic process are made to the RBI and approved within three weeks.

However, automatic route for technology collaboration is not available to those who have, or had any previous technology transfer/trade-mark agreement in the same or allied field in India.

Government approval

The FDI/foreign technology collaboration agreement proposals, which don’t conform to the automatic-approval guidelines, require government approval through the FIPB. The government has set up a special FIPB as a fast track mechanism to invite and facilitate foreign investment in large projects, considered beneficial for India, but are not covered by the automatic-approval process and norms under which SIA (Secretariat for Industrial Assistance) is authorized to grant investment approvals.

Setting up a call center

For a call center you need effective company representatives and state-of-the-art communications and information technologies. You need adequate telecom facilities, trained consultants, access to a wide database, Internet and other on-line information support infrastructure, to provide information and support to customers round the clock. A call center is sometimes defined as a telephone-based shared-service center, for specific customer-related functions like marketing, selling, information dispensing, advice and technical support.

To set up a call center, you must get an NOC (no-objection certificate) from the Deputy Director General (Customer Relations) at the Department of Communications, New Delhi. The NOC grants special permission to use voice circuits over international gateways to serve overseas customers, with the undertaking that it will not be connected to a PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) within India.

The government has set terms/conditions for call-center operators. The new policy initiatives aim to liberalize such operations in India, and are permitted on a nonexclusive basis against requests from IT service providers. The call centers can either be international or domestic.

  • However, interconnectivity of international and domestic call centers is not permitted. Though, interconnection of two domestic call centers of the same company is permissible, subject to DoT approval.
  • International call centers are permitted on IPLCs (International Private Leased Circuits) only, and will cater to calls from foreign end PSTN. However, no PSTN connectivity will be permitted at the Indian end. Linking to any private or public network is not permitted, even within the same organization.
  • Domestic call centers can have PSTN connectivity at one end, or both ends, or at multiple points, in a more complex configuration, with only incoming and with outgoing disabled at all places, wherever PSTN termination is provided.
  • No other interconnectivity, except as permitted above, with any public or private network, is permitted to the call-center setup.
  • Investment proposals outside the purview of the RBI
  • Other proposals including those in the services sector that don’t conform to the guidelines for automatic approval, or seek higher foreign equity investment are approved by SIA (Industry Ministry).
Setting up a software technology park

  • STPI (Software Technology Parks of India) is an autonomous society set up by the government under the Ministry of Information Technology, to promote exports of computer software.
  • STP (Software Technology Parks) is a 100% export-oriented scheme for the development and export of computer software, using data communication links, or in the form of physical media including the export of professional services. The major attraction of this scheme is the single-point contact service to STP units.
  • To become a certified member unit under the STP scheme, approval from the competent authority is required.
  • Requirements for setting up STP
  • An application in the prescribed format to register and establish an STP unit must be submitted to the STPI
  • Details of the software project in terms of strengths, area of expertise, marketing arrangement, business plans, and means of finance must be furnished
  • Each page of the application should be signed in initials by the competent authority, with the company’s seal on it
  • Certificate of Incorporation under the Companies Act of 1956, Memorandum of  Association, and its Articles of Association must be given 100% FDI companies should first register under the Company’s Act
  • The time frame for processing and granting approvals is within 15 days, barring unavoidable circumstances. The application must accompany a demand draft of  Rs 2,500 drawn in favor of The Director, Software Technology Parks of India, Bangalore, as processing fees.


FAQs about Foreign Investment

I. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Q. 1. What are the forms in which business can be conducted by a foreign company in India?

Ans. A foreign company planning to set up business operations in India may:

Incorporate a company under the Companies Act, 1956, as a Joint Venture or a Wholly Owned Subsidiary.

Set up a Liaison Office / Representative Office or a Project Office or a Branch Office of the foreign company which can undertake activities permitted under the Foreign Exchange Management (Establishment in India of Branch Office or Other Place of Business) Regulations, 2000.

Q.2. What is the procedure for receiving Foreign Direct Investment in an Indian company?

Ans. An Indian company may receive Foreign Direct Investment under the two routes as given under:

i. Automatic Route

FDI is allowed under the automatic route without prior approval either of the Government or the Reserve Bank of India in all activities/sectors as specified in the consolidated FDI Policy, issued by the Government of India from time to time.

ii. Government Route

FDI in activities not covered under the automatic route requires prior approval of the Government which are considered by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. Application can be made in Form FC-IL, which can be downloaded from http://www.dipp.gov.in. Plain paper applications carrying all relevant details are also accepted. No fee is payable.

The Indian company having received FDI either under the Automatic route or the Government route is required to comply with provisions of the FDI policy including reporting the FDI to the Reserve Bank. as stated in Q 4.

Q.3. What are the instruments for receiving Foreign Direct Investment in an Indian company?

Ans. Foreign investment is reckoned as FDI only if the investment is made in equity shares , fully and mandatorily convertible preference shares and fully and mandatorily convertible debentures with the pricing being decided upfront as a figure or based on the formula that is decided upfront. Any foreign investment into an instrument issued by an Indian company which:

gives an option to the investor to convert or not to convert it into equity or does not involve upfront pricing of the instrument as a date would be reckoned as ECB and would have to comply with the ECB guidelines.

The FDI policy provides that the price/ conversion formula of convertible capital instruments should be determined upfront at the time of issue of the instruments. The price at the time of conversion should not in any case be lower than the fair value worked out, at the time of issuance of such instruments, in accordance with the extant FEMA regulations [the DCF method of valuation for the unlisted companies and valuation in terms of SEBI (ICDR) Regulations, for the listed companies].

Q.4. What are the modes of payment allowed for receiving Foreign Direct Investment in an Indian company?

Ans. An Indian company issuing shares /convertible debentures under FDI Scheme to a person resident outside India shall receive the amount of consideration required to be paid for such shares /convertible debentures by:

(i) inward remittance through normal banking channels.

(ii) debit to NRE / FCNR account of a person concerned maintained with an AD category I bank.

(iii) conversion of royalty / lump sum / technical know how fee due for payment or conversion of ECB, shall be treated as consideration for issue of shares.

(iv) conversion of import payables / pre incorporation expenses / share swap can be treated as consideration for issue of shares with the approval of FIPB.

(v) debit to non-interest bearing Escrow account in Indian Rupees in India which is opened with the approval from AD Category – I bank and is maintained with the AD Category I bank on behalf of residents and non-residents towards payment of share purchase consideration.

If the shares or convertible debentures are not issued within 180 days from the date of receipt of the inward remittance or date of debit to NRE / FCNR (B) / Escrow account, the amount shall be refunded. Further, Reserve Bank may on an application made to it and for sufficient reasons permit an Indian Company to refund / allot shares for the amount of consideration received towards issue of security if such amount is outstanding beyond the period of 180 days from the date of receipt.

Q.5. Which are the sectors where FDI is not allowed in India, both under the Automatic Route as well as under the Government Route?

Ans. FDI is prohibited under the Government Route as well as the Automatic Route in the following sectors:

i) Atomic Energy

ii) Lottery Business

iii) Gambling and Betting

iv) Business of Chit Fund

v) Nidhi Company

vi) Agricultural (excluding Floriculture, Horticulture, Development of seeds, Animal Husbandry, Pisciculture and cultivation of vegetables, mushrooms, etc. under controlled conditions and services related to agro and allied sectors) and Plantations activities (other than Tea Plantations) (c.f. Notification No. FEMA 94/2003-RB dated June 18, 2003).

vii) Housing and Real Estate business (except development of townships, construction of residen­tial/commercial premises, roads or bridges to the extent specified in Notification No. FEMA 136/2005-RB dated July 19, 2005).

viii) Trading in Transferable Development Rights (TDRs).

ix) Manufacture of cigars , cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes , of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes.

(Please also see the the website of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India at www.dipp.gov.in for details regarding sectors and investment limits therein allowed ,under FDI)


Q.6. What is the procedure to be followed after investment is made under the Automatic Route or with Government approval?

Ans. A two-stage reporting procedure has to be followed :

• On receipt of share application money:

Within 30 days of receipt of share application money/amount of consideration from the non-resident investor, the Indian company is required to report to the Foreign Exchange Department, Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank of India,under whose jurisdiction its Registered Office is located, the Advance Reporting Form, containing the following details :

Name and address of the foreign investor/s;

Date of receipt of funds and the Rupee equivalent;

Name and address of the authorised dealer through whom the funds have been received;

Details of the Government approval, if any; and

KYC report on the non-resident investor from the overseas bank remitting the amount of consideration.

The Indian company has to ensure that the shares are issued within 180 days from the date of inward remittance which otherwise would result in the contravention / violation of the FEMA regulations.

• Upon issue of shares to non-resident investors:

Within 30 days from the date of issue of shares, a report in Form FC-GPR- PART A together with the following documents should be filed with the Foreign Exchange Department, Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank of India.

• Certificate from the Company Secretary of the company accepting investment from persons resident outside India certifying that:

The company has complied with the procedure for issue of shares as laid down under the FDI scheme as indicated in the Notification No. FEMA 20/2000-RB dated 3rd May 2000, as amended from time to time.

• The investment is within the sectoral cap / statutory ceiling permissible under the Automatic Route of the Reserve Bank and it fulfills all the conditions laid down for investments under the Automatic Route,

• OR

• Shares have been issued in terms of SIA/FIPB approval No. --------------------- dated -------------------- (enclosing the FIPB approval copy)

• Certificate from Statutory Auditors/ SEBI registered Merchant Banker / Chartered Accountant indicating the manner of arriving at the price of the shares issued to the persons resident outside India.

Q.7. What are the guidelines for transfer of existing shares from non-residents to residents or residents to non-residents?

Ans. The term ‘transfer’ is defined under FEMA as including "sale, purchase, acquisition, mortgage, pledge, gift, loan or any other form of transfer of right, possession or lien” {Section 2 (ze) of FEMA, 1999}.

The following share transfers are allowed without the prior approval of the Reserve Bank of India

A. Transfer of shares from a Non Resident to Resident under the FDI scheme where the pricing guidelines under FEMA, 1999 are not met provided that :-

i. The original and resultant investment are in line with the extant FDI policy and FEMA regulations in terms of sectoral caps, conditionalities (such as minimum capitalization, etc.), reporting requirements, documentation, etc.;

ii. The pricing for the transaction is compliant with the specific/explicit, extant and relevant SEBI regulations / guidelines (such as IPO, Book building, block deals, delisting, exit, open offer/ substantial acquisition / SEBI SAST, buy back); and

iii. Chartered Accountants Certificate to the effect that compliance with the relevant SEBI regulations / guidelines as indicated above is attached to the form FC-TRS to be filed with the AD bank.

B. Transfer of shares from Resident to Non Resident:

 i) where the transfer of shares requires the prior approval of the FIPB as per the extant FDI policy provided that :

a) the requisite approval of the FIPB has been obtained; and

b) the transfer of share adheres with the pricing guidelines and documentation requirements as specified by the Reserve Bank of India from time to time.

ii) where SEBI (SAST) guidelines are attracted subject to the adherence with the pricing guidelines and documentation requirements as specified by Reserve Bank of India from time to time.

iii) where the pricing guidelines under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 are not met provided that:-

The resultant FDI is in compliance with the extant FDI policy and FEMA regulations in terms of sectoral caps, conditionalities (such as minimum capitalization, etc.), reporting requirements, documentation etc.; b) The pricing for the transaction is compliant with the specific/explicit, extant and relevant SEBI regulations / guidelines (such as IPO, Book building, block deals, delisting, exit, open offer/ substantial acquisition / SEBI SAST); and

Chartered Accountants Certificate to the effect that compliance with the relevant SEBI regulations / guidelines as indicated above is attached to the form FC-TRS to be filed with the AD bank.

iv) where the investee company is in the financial sector provided that :

a) NOCs are obtained from the respective financial sector regulators/ regulators of the investee company as well as transferor and transferee entities and such NOCs are filed along with the form FC-TRS with the AD bank; and

b). The FDI policy and FEMA regulations in terms of sectoral caps, conditionalities (such as minimum capitalization, etc.), reporting requirements, documentation etc., are complied with.

Where non-residents (including NRIs) make investment in an Indian company in compliance with the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956, by way of subscription to Memorandum of Association, such investments may be made at face value subject to their eligibility to invest under the FDI scheme.

Transfer of shares/ fully and mandatorily convertible debentures by way of Gift:

A person resident outside India can freely transfer shares/ fully and mandatorily convertible debentures by way of gift to a person resident in India as under:

Any person resident outside India, (not being a NRI or an erstwhile OCB), can transfer by way of gift the shares/ fully and mandatorily convertible debentures to any person resident outside India; a NRI may transfer by way of gift, the shares/convertible debentures held by him to another NRI only, Any person resident outside India may transfer share/ fully and mandatorily convertible debentures to a person resident in India by way of gift.

Q.8. Can a person resident in India transfer security by way of gift to a person resident outside India?

Ans. A person resident in India who proposes to transfer security by way of gift to a person resident outside India [other than an erstwhile OCBs] shall make an application to the Central Office of the Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India furnishing the following information, namely:

Name and address of the transferor and the proposed transferee

Relationship between the transferor and the proposed transferee

Reasons for making the gift.

In case of Government dated securities, treasury bills and bonds, a certificate issued by a Chartered Accountant on the market value of such securities.

In case of units of domestic mutual funds and units of Money Market Mutual Funds, a certificate from the issuer on the Net Asset Value of such security.

In case of shares/ fully and mandatorily convertible debentures, a certificate from a Chartered Account on the value of such securities according to the guidelines issued by the Securities & Exchange Board of India or the Discount Free Cash Flow Cash (DCF) method with regard to listed companies and unlisted companies, respectively.

Certificate from the Indian company concerned certifying that the proposed transfer of shares/convertible debentures, by way of gift, from resident to the non-resident shall not breach the applicable sectoral cap/ FDI limit in the company and that the proposed number of shares/convertible debentures to be held by the non-resident transferee shall not exceed 5 per cent of the paid up capital of the company.

The transfer of security by way of gift may be permitted by the Reserve bank provided:

(i) The donee is eligible to hold such security under Schedules 1, 4 and 5 to Notification No. FEMA 20/2000-RB dated May 3, 2000, as amended from time to time.

(ii) The gift does not exceed 5 per cent of the paid up capital of the Indian company/ each series of debentures/ each mutual fund scheme

(iii) The applicable sectoral cap/ foreign direct investment limit in the Indian company is not breached

(iv) The donor and the donee are relatives as defined in section 6 of the Companies Act, 1956.

(v) The value of security to be transferred by the donor together with any security transferred to any person residing outside India as gift in the financial year does not exceed the rupee equivalent of USD 50000.

 (vi) Such other conditions as considered necessary in public interest by the Reserve Bank.

Q.9. What if the transfer of shares from resident to non-resident does not fall under the above categories?

Ans. Transfer of Shares by Resident which requires Government approval

The following instances of transfer of shares from residents to non-residents by way of sale or otherwise requires Government approval:

(i) Transfer of shares of companies engaged in sector falling under the Government Route.

(ii) Transfer of shares resulting in foreign investments in the Indian company, breaching the sectoral cap applicable.

Prior permission of the Reserve Bank in certain cases for acquisition / transfer of security

i) Transfer of shares or convertible debentures from residents to non-residents by way of sale requires prior approval of Reserve Bank in case where the non-resident acquirer proposes deferment of payment of the amount of consideration. Further, in case approval is granted for the transaction, the same should be reported in Form FC-TRS to the AD Category – I bank, within 60 days from the date of receipt of the full and final amount of consideration.

(ii) A person resident in India, who intends to transfer any security, by way of gift to a person resident outside India, has to obtain prior approval from the Reserve Bank.

Any other case not covered by by General Permission.

Q 10. What are the reporting obligations in case of transfer of shares between resident and non-resident ?

Ans. The transaction should be reported by submission of form FC-TRS to the AD Category – I bank, within 60 days from the date of receipt/remittance of the amount of consideration. The onus of submission of the form FC-TRS within the given timeframe would be on the resident in India, the transferor or transferee, as the case may be.

Q.11. What is the method of payment and remittance/credit of sale proceeds in case of transfer of shares between resident and non-resident?

Ans. The sale consideration in respect of the shares purchased by a person resident outside India shall be remitted to India through normal banking channels. In case the buyer is a Foreign Institutional Investor (FII), payment should be made by debit to its Special Non-Resident Rupee Account. In case the buyer is a NRI, the payment may be made by way of debit to his NRE/FCNR (B) accounts. However, if the shares are acquired on non-repatriation basis by NRI, the consideration shall be remitted to India through normal banking channel or paid out of funds held in NRE/FCNR (B)/NRO accounts.

The sale proceeds of shares (net of taxes) sold by a person resident outside India) may be remitted outside India. In case of FII the sale proceeds may be credited to its special Non-Resident Rupee Account. In case of NRI, if the shares sold were held on repatriation basis, the sale proceeds (net of taxes) may be credited to his NRE/FCNR(B) accounts and if the shares sold were held on non repatriation basis, the sale proceeds may be credited to his NRO account subject to payment of taxes. The sale proceeds of shares (net of taxes) sold by an erstwhile OCB may be remitted outside India directly if the shares were held on repatriation basis and if the shares sold were held on non-repatriation basis, the sale proceeds may be credited to its NRO (Current) Account subject to payment of taxes, except in the case of erstwhile OCBs whose accounts have been blocked by Reserve Bank.

Q.12. Are the investments and profits earned in India repatriable?

Ans. All foreign investments are freely repatriable (net of applicable taxes) except in cases where:

i) the foreign investment is in a sector like Construction and Development Projects and Defence wherein the foreign investment is subject to a lock-in-period; and

ii) NRIs choose to invest specifically under non-repatriable schemes. Further, dividends (net of applicable taxes) declared on foreign investments can be remitted freely through an Authorised Dealer bank.

Q.13. What are the guidelines on issue and valuation of shares in case of existing companies?

Ans. A. The price of shares issued to persons resident outside India under the FDI Scheme shall not be less than :

(i) the price worked out in accordance with the SEBI guidelines, as applicable, where the shares of the company is listed on any recognised stock exchange in India;

(ii) the fair valuation of shares done by a SEBI registered Category - I Merchant Banker or a Chartered Accountant as per the discounted free cash flow method, where the shares of the company is not listed on any recognised stock exchange in India; and

(iii) the price as applicable to transfer of shares from resident to non-resident as per the pricing guidelines laid down by the Reserve Bank from time to time, where the issue of shares is on preferential allotment.

B. The price of shares transferred from resident to a non-resident and vice versa should be determined as under:

i) Transfer of shares from a resident to a non-resident:

a) In case of listed shares, at a price which is not less than the price at which a preferential allotment of shares would be made under SEBI guidelines.

b) In case of unlisted shares at a price which is not less than the fair value as per the Discount Free Cash Flow (DCF) Method to be determined by a SEBI registered Category-I- Merchant Banker/Chartered Accountant.

ii) Transfer of shares from a non-resident to a resident - The price should not be more than the minimum price at which the transfer of shares would have been made from a resident to a non-resident.

In any case, the price per share arrived at as per the above method should be certified by a SEBI registered Category-I-Merchant Banker / Chartered Accountant.


Q. 14. What are the regulations pertaining to issue of ADRs/ GDRs by Indian companies?

Ans. Indian companies can raise foreign currency resources abroad through the issue of ADRs/ GDRs, in accordance with the Scheme for issue of Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds and Ordinary Shares (Through Depository Receipt Mechanism) Scheme, 1993 and guidelines issued by the Government of India thereunder from time to time.

A company can issue ADRs / GDRs, if it is eligible to issue shares to persons resident outside India under the FDI Scheme. However, an Indian listed company, which is not eligible to raise funds from the Indian Capital Market including a company which has been restrained from accessing the securities market by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will not be eligible to issue ADRs/GDRs.

Unlisted companies, which have not yet accessed the ADR/GDR route for raising capital in the international market, would require prior or simultaneous listing in the domestic market, while seeking to issue such overseas instruments. Unlisted companies, which have already issued ADRs/GDRs in the international market, have to list in the domestic market on making profit or within three years of such issue of ADRs/GDRs, whichever is earlier.

After the issue of ADRs/GDRs, the company has to file a return in Form DR as indicated in the RBI Notification No. FEMA.20/ 2000-RB dated May 3, 2000, as amended from time to time. The company is also required to file a quarterly return in Form DR- Quarterly as indicated in the RBI Notification ibid.

There are no end-use restrictions on GDR/ADR issue proceeds, except for an express ban on investment in real estate and stock markets.

Erstwhile OCBs which are not eligible to invest in India and entities prohibited to buy, sell or deal in securities by SEBI will not be eligible to subscribe to ADRs / GDRs issued by Indian companies.

The pricing of ADR / GDR issues including sponsored ADRs / GDRs should be made at a price determined under the provisions of the Scheme of issue of Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds and Ordinary Shares (Through Depository Receipt Mechanism) Scheme, 1993 and guidelines issued by the Government of India and directions issued by the Reserve Bank, from time to time.

Q.15. What is meant by Sponsored ADR & Two-way fungibility Scheme of ADR/ GDR?

Ans. Sponsored ADR/GDR: An Indian company may sponsor an issue of ADR/ GDR with an overseas depository against shares held by its shareholders at a price to be determined by the Lead Manager. The operative guidelines for the same have been issued vide A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No.52 dated November 23, 2002.

Two-way fungibility Scheme: Under the limited Two-way fungibility Scheme, a registered broker in India can purchase shares of an Indian company on behalf of a person resident outside India for the purpose of converting the shares so purchased into ADRs/ GDRs. The operative guidelines for the same have been issued vide A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No.21 dated February 13, 2002. The Scheme provides for purchase and re-conversion of only as many shares into ADRs/ GDRs which are equal to or less than the number of shares emerging on surrender of ADRs/ GDRs which have been actually sold in the market. Thus, it is only a limited two-way fungibility wherein the headroom available for fresh purchase of shares from domestic market is restricted to the number of converted shares sold in the domestic market by non-resident investors. So long the ADRs/ GDRs are quoted at discount to the value of shares in domestic market, an investor will gain by converting the ADRs/ GDRs into underlying shares and selling them in the domestic market. In case of ADRs/ GDRs being quoted at premium, there will be demand for reverse fungibility, i.e. purchase of shares in domestic market for re-conversion into ADRs/ GDRs. The scheme is operationalised through the Custodians of securities and stock brokers under SEBI.

Q.16. Can Indian companies issue Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCBs)?

Ans. FCCBs can be issued by Indian companies in the overseas market in accordance with the Scheme for Issue of Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds and Ordinary Shares (Through Depository Receipt Mechanism) Scheme, 1993.

The FCCB being a debt security, the issue needs to conform to the External Commercial Borrowing guidelines, issued by RBI vide Notification No. FEMA 3/2000-RB dated May 3, 2000, as amended from time to time.

Q.17. Can a foreign investor invest in Preference Shares? What are the regulations applicable in case of such investments?

Ans. Yes. Foreign investment through preference shares is treated as foreign direct investment. However, the preference shares should be fully and mandatorily convertible into equity shares within a specified time to be reckoned as part of share capital under FDI. Investment in other forms of preference shares requires to comply with the ECB norms.

Q.18. Can a company issue debentures as part of FDI?

Ans. Yes. Debentures which are fully and mandatorily convertible into equity within a specified time would be reckoned as part of share capital under the FDI Policy.

Q.19. Can shares be issued against Lumpsum Fee, Royalty, ECB , Import of capital goods/ machineries / equipments (excluding second-hand machine) and Pre-operative/pre-incorporation expenses (including payments of rent)?

Ans. An Indian company eligible to issue shares under the FDI policy and subject to pricing guidelines as specified by the Reserve Bank from time to time, may issue shares to a person resident outside India :

being a provider of technology / technical know-how, against Royalty / Lumpsum fees due for payment;

against External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) (other than import dues deemed as ECB or Trade Credit as per RBI Guidelines).

With prior approval from FIPB for against import of capital goods/ machineries / equipments and Pre-operative/pre-incorporation expenses subject to the compliance with the extant FEMA regulations and AP Dir Series 74 dated June 30,2011.

 Provided, that the foreign equity in the company, after such conversion, is within the sectoral cap.

Q.20. What are the other modes of issues of shares for which general permission is available under RBI Notification No. FEMA 20 dated May 3, 2000?

Ans. Issue of shares under ESOP by Indian companies to its employees or employees of its joint venture or wholly owned subsidiary abroad who are resident outside India directly or through a Trust up to 5% of the paid up capital of the company.

Issue and acquisition of shares by non-residents after merger or de-merger or amalgamation of Indian companies.

Issue shares or preference shares or convertible debentures on rights basis by an Indian company to a person resident outside India.

Q.21. Can a foreign investor invest in shares issued by an unlisted company in India?

Ans. Yes. As per the regulations/guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India/Government of India, investment can be made in shares issued by an unlisted Indian company.

Q.22. Can a foreigner set up a partnership/ proprietorship concern in India?

Ans. No. Only NRIs/PIOs are allowed to set up partnership/proprietorship concerns in India on non-repatriation basis.

Q.23. Can a foreign investor invest in Rights shares issued by an Indian company at a discount?

Ans. There are no restrictions under FEMA for investment in Rights shares issued at a discount by an Indian company, provided the rights shares so issued are being offered at the same price to residents and non-residents. The offer on right basis to the person’s resident outside India shall be:

(a) in the case of shares of a company listed on a recognized stock exchange in India, at a price as determined by the company; and

(b) in the case of shares of a company not listed on a recognized stock exchange in India, at a price which is not less than the price at which the offer on right basis is made to resident shareholders.

Q.24. Can a AD bank allow pledge of shares of an Indian company held by non-resident investor in favor of an Indian bank or an Overseas bank?

Ans. Yes, the same has been allowed vide the instruction and subject to compliance with the terms and conditions as mentioned in the AP Dir Series Circular No 57 dated May 2, 2011.

II. Foreign Technology Collaboration Agreement

Q. Whether the payment in terms of foreign technology collaboration agreement' can be made by an Authorised Dealer (AD) bank?

Ans. Yes, RBI has delegated the powers, to make payments for royalty, lumpsum fee for transfer of technology and payment for use of trademark/brand name in terms of the foreign technology collaboration agreement entered by the Indian company with its foreign partners, to the AD banks subject to compliance with the provisions of Foreign Exchange Management (Current Account Transactions) Rules, 2000. Further, the requirement of registration of the agreement with the Regional Office of Reserve Bank of India has also been done away with.

III. Foreign Portfolio Investment

Q.1. What are the regulations regarding Portfolio Investments by SEBI registered Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs)?

Ans. Investment by SEBI registered FIIs is regulated under SEBI (FII) Regulations, 1995 and Regulation 5(2) of FEMA Notification No.20 dated May 3, 2000, as amended from time to time. FIIs include Asset Management Companies, Pension Funds, Mutual Funds, Investment Trusts as Nominee Companies, Incorporated / Institutional Portfolio Managers or their Power of Attorney holders, University Funds, Endowment Foundations, Charitable Trusts and Charitable Societies.

 SEBI acts as the nodal point in the registration of FIIs. The Reserve Bank of India has granted general permission to SEBI Registered FIIs to invest in India under the Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS).

Investment by SEBI registered FIIs and its sub accounts cannot exceed 10per cent of the paid up capital of the Indian company. However, in case of foreign corporates or High Networth Individuals (HNIs) registered as sub accounts of an FII, their investment shall be restricted to 5 per cent of the paid up capital of the Indian company. All FIIs and their sub-accounts taken together cannot acquire more than 24 per cent of the paid up capital of an Indian Company. An Indian company can raise the 24 per cent ceiling to the sectoral cap / statutory ceiling, as applicable, by passing a resolution by its Board of Directors followed by passing a Special Resolution to that effect by their General Body. The Indian company has to intimate the raising of the FII limit to the Reserve Bank to enable the Bank to notify the same on its website for larger public dissemination.

SEBI registered FIIs/sub-accounts of FIIs can invest in primary issues of Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs)/ bonds only if listing of such bonds / NCDs is committed to be done within 15 days of such investment. In case the NCDs/bonds issued to the SEBI registered FIIs / sub-accounts of FIIs are not listed within 15 days of issuance to the SEBI registered FIIs / sub-accounts of FIIs, for any reason, then the FII/sub-account of FII shall immediately dispose of these bonds/NCDs either by way of sale to a third party or to the issuer and the terms of offer to FIIs / sub-accounts should contain a clause that the issuer of such debt securities shall immediately redeem / buyback the said securities from the FIIs/sub-accounts of FIIs in such an eventuality.

Q.2. What are the regulations regarding Portfolio Investments by NRIs/PIOs?

Ans. Non- Resident Indian (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) can purchase or sell shares/ fully and mandatorily convertible debentures of Indian companies on the Stock Exchanges under the Portfolio Investment Scheme. For this purpose, the NRI/ PIO has to apply to a designated branch of a bank, which deals in Portfolio Investment. All sale/ purchase transactions are to be routed through the designated branch.

An NRI or a PIO can purchase shares up to 5 per cent of the paid up capital of an Indian company. All NRIs/PIOs taken together cannot purchase more than 10 per cent of the paid up value of the company. This limit can be increased by the Indian company to 24 per cent by passing a General Body resolution. The Indian company has to intimate the raising of the NR Limit to the Reserve Bank to enable the Bank to notify the same on its website for larger public dissemination.

The sale proceeds of the repatriable investments can be credited to the NRE/ NRO, etc. accounts of the NRI/ PIO, whereas the sale proceeds of non-repatriable investment can be credited only to NRO accounts.

The sale of shares will be subject to payment of applicable taxes.

IV. Investment in other Securities

Q.1. Can a Non-resident Indian (NRI) and SEBI registered Foreign Institutional Investor (FII)invest in Government Securities/ Treasury bills and Corporate debt?

Ans. Under the FEMA Regulations, only NRIs andSEBI registered FIIs are permitted to purchase Government Securities/Treasury bills and Corporate debt. The details are as under :

 A. A Non-resident Indian can purchase without limit,

(1) on repatriation basis

i) Dated Government securities (other than bearer securities) or treasury bills or units of domestic mutual funds;

ii) Bonds issued by a public sector undertaking (PSU) in India; and

iii) Shares in Public Sector Enterprises being disinvested by the Government of India.

(2) on non-repatriation basis

i) Dated Government securities (other than bearer securities) or treasury bills or units of domestic mutual funds;

ii) Units of Money Market Mutual Funds in India; and

iii) National Plan/Savings Certificates.

B. A SEBI registered FII may purchase, on repatriation basis, dated Government securities/ treasury bills, listed non-convertible debentures/ bonds issued by an Indian company and units of domestic mutual funds either directly from the issuer of such securities or through a registered stock broker on a recognised stock exchange in India.

Purchase of debt instruments including Upper Tier II instruments issued by banks in India and denominated in Indian Rupees by FIIs are subject to limits notified by SEBI and the Reserve Bank from time to time. The present limit for investment in Corporate Debt Instruments like non-convertible debentures / bonds by FIIs is USD 45 billion , which constitutes of the:

Out of USD 45 billion, USD 25 billion is earmarked for investment in infrastructure corporate bonds and the remaining USD 20 billion is earmarked for investment in non-infrastructure corporate bonds. Out of the USD 25 billion earmarked for FIIs investment in infrastructure corporate bonds, a uniform lock-in period of one year and residual maturity of fifteen months has been prescribed for USD 22 billion investment by FIIs excluding the USD 3 billion limit earmarked for QFIs investment in mutual fund debt oriented schemes.The present limit of investment by SEBI registered FIIs in Government Securities is USD 20 billion which constitutes of :

USD 10 billion will be without any conditions and the remaining USD 10 billion is with the condition that the residual maturity of the instrument at the time of first purchase by FIIs should be at least three years.

Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs), Multilateral agencies, endowment funds, insurance funds, pension funds and foreign Central Banks to be registered with SEBI are also allowed to invest in Government securities within this enhanced limit of USD 20 billion.

Q.2. Can a NRI and SEBI registered FII invest in Tier I and Tier II instruments issued by banks in India?

Ans. SEBI registered FIIs and NRIs have been permitted to subscribe to the Perpetual Debt instruments (eligible for inclusion as Tier I capital) and Debt Capital instruments (eligible for inclusion as upper Tier II capital), issued by banks in India and denominated in Indian Rupees, subject to the following conditions:


Investment by all FIIs in Rupee denominated Perpetual Debt instruments (Tier I) should not exceed an aggregate ceiling of 49 per cent of each issue and investment by individual FII should not exceed the limit of 10 per cent of each issue.

Investments by all NRIs in Rupee denominated Perpetual Debt instruments (Tier I) should not exceed an aggregate ceiling of 24 per cent of each issue and investments by a single NRI should not exceed 5 percent of each issue.

Investment by FIIs in Rupee denominated Debt Capital instruments (Tier II) shall be within the limits stipulated by SEBI for FII investment in corporate debt instruments.

Investment by NRIs in Rupee denominated Debt Capital instruments (Tier II) shall be in accordance with the extant policy for investment by NRIs in other debt instruments.

Investment by FIIs in Rupee denominated Upper Tier II Instruments raised in Indian Rupees will be within the limit prescribed by the SEBI for investment in corporate debt instruments.

The details of the secondary market sales / purchases by FIIs and the NRIs in these instruments on the floor of the stock exchange are to be reported by the custodians and designated Authorised Dealer banks respectively, to the Reserve Bank through the soft copy of the Forms LEC (FII) and LEC (NRI).

Q.3. Can a NRI and SEBI registered FIIinvest in Indian Depository Receipts (IDRs)?

Ans. NRI and SEBI registered FIIs have been permitted to invest, purchase, hold and transfer IDRs of eligible companies resident outside India and issued in the Indian capital market, subject to the following conditions:

(i) The purchase, hold and transfer of IDRs is in accordance with the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident Outside India) Regulations, 2000 notified vide Notification No. FEMA 20 / 2000-RB dated May 3, 2000, as amended from time to time.

A limited two way fungibility for IDRs (similar to the limited two way ungibility facility available for ADRs/GDRs) subject to the following terms and conditions:

The conversion of IDRs into underlying equity shares would be governed by the conditions mentioned in paras 6 and 7 of A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 5 dated July 22, 2009.

Fresh IDRs would continue to be issued in terms of the provisions of A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 5 dated July 22, 2009.

The re-issuance of IDRs would be allowed only to the extent of IDRs that have been redeemed /converted into underlying shares and sold.

There would be an overall cap of USD 5 billion for raising of capital by issuance of IDRs by eligible foreign companies in Indian markets. This cap would be akin to the caps imposed for FII investment in debt securities and would be monitored by SEBI.

IDRs shall not be redeemable into underlying equity shares before the expiry of one year period from the date of issue of the IDRs.

At the time of redemption / conversion of IDRs into the underlying shares, the Indian holders (persons resident in India) of IDRs shall comply with the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Any Foreign Security) Regulations, 2004 notified vide Notification No. FEMA 120 / RB-2004 dated July 7 2004, as amended from time to time.

The FEMA provisions shall not apply to the holding of the underlying shares, on redemption of IDRs by the FIIs including SEBI approved sub-accounts of the FIIs and NRIs.The issuance, redemption and fungibility of IDRs would also be subject to the SEBI (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2009, as amended from time to time as well as other relevant guidelines issued in this regard by the Government, the SEBI and the RBI from time to time.

Q.4. Can aperson resident in India invests in the Indian Depository Receipts (IDRs)? What is the procedure for redemption of IDRs held by persons resident in India?

Ans. A person resident in India may purchase, hold and transfer IDRs of eligible companies resident outside India and issued in the Indian capital market. The FEMA Regulations shall not be applicable to persons resident in India as defined under section 2(v) of FEMA, 1999, for investing in IDRs and subsequent transfer arising out of a transaction on a recognized Stock Exchange in India. However, at the time of redemption / conversion of IDRs into underlying shares, the Indian holders (persons resident in India) of IDRs shall comply with the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Any Foreign Security) Regulations, 2004 notified vide Notification No. FEMA 120 / RB-2004 dated July 7 2004, as amended from time to time. The following guidelines shall be followed on redemption of IDRs by persons resident in India:

i. Listed Indian companies may either sell or continue to hold the underlying shares subject to the terms and conditions as per Regulations 6B and 7 of Notification No. FEMA 120/RB-2004 dated July 7, 2004, as amended from time to time.

ii. Indian Mutual Funds, registered with SEBI may either sell or continue to hold the underlying shares subject to the terms and conditions as per Regulation 6C of Notification No. FEMA 120/RB-2004 dated July 7, 2004, as amended from time to time.

iii. Other persons resident in India including resident individuals are allowed to hold the underlying shares only for the purpose of sale within a period of 30 days from the date of conversion of the IDRs into underlying shares.

V. Foreign Venture Capital Investment

What are the regulations for Foreign Venture Capital Investment?

Ans. A SEBI registered Foreign Venture Capital Investor has general permission from the Reserve Bank of India to invest in a Venture Capital Fund (VCF) or an Indian Venture Capital Undertaking (IVCU), in the manner and subject to the terms and conditions specified in Schedule 6 of RBI Notification No. FEMA 20/2000-RB dated May 3, 2000, as amended from time to time. These investments by SEBI registered FVCI, would be subject to the SEBI regulation and sector specific caps of FDI.

FVCIs can purchase equity / equity linked instruments / debt / debt instruments, debentures of an IVCU or of a VCF through initial public offer or private placement in units of schemes / funds set up by a VCF. At the time of granting approval, the Reserve Bank permits the FVCI to open a Foreign Currency Account and/ or a Rupee Account with a designated branch of an AD Category – I bank.

FVCIs allowed to invest in the eligible securities (equity, equity linked instruments, debt, debt instruments, debentures of an IVCU or VCF, units of schemes / funds set up by a VCF) by way of private arrangement / purchase from a third party also. FVCIs are also allowed to invest in securities on a recognized stock exchange.

The purchase / sale of shares, debentures and units can be at a price that is mutually acceptable to the buyer and the seller.

AD Category – I banks can offer forward cover to FVCIs to the extent of total inward remittance. In case the FVCI has made any remittance by liquidating some investments, original cost of the investments has to be deducted from the eligible cover to arrive at the actual cover that can be offered.

VI. Branch/ Project/ Liaison Office of a foreign company in India

Q.1. How can foreign companies open Liaison /Branch office in India?

Ans. A. With effect from February 1, 2010, foreign companies/entities desirous of setting up of Liaison Office / Branch Office (LO/BO) are required to submit their application in Form FNC along with the documents mentioned therein to Foreign Investment Division, Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Mumbai through an Authorised Dealer bank. This form is available at www.rbi.org.in

B. The applications from such entities in Form FNC will be considered by the Reserve Bank under two routes:

• Reserve Bank Route - Where principal business of the foreign entity falls under sectors where 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is permissible under the automatic route.

• Government Route - Where principal business of the foreign entity falls under the sectors where 100 per cent FDI is not permissible under the automatic route. Applications from entities falling under this category and those from Non - Government Organisations / Non - Profit Organisations / Government Bodies / Departments are considered by the Reserve Bank in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

 C. The following additional criteria are also considered by the Reserve Bank while sanctioning Liaison/Branch Offices of foreign entities:

• Track Record

For Branch Office — a profit making track record during the immediately preceding five financial years in the home country.

For Liaison Office — a profit making track record during the immediately preceding three financial years in the home country.

• Net Worth [total of paid-up capital and free reserves, less intangible assets as per the latest Audited Balance Sheet or Account Statement certified by a Certified Public Accountant or any Registered Accounts Practitioner by whatever name].

For Branch Office — not less than USD 100,000 or its equivalent.

For Liaison Office — not less than USD 50,000 or its equivalent.

D. Permission to set up such offices is initially granted for a period of 3 years and this may be extended from time to time by the Authorised Dealer in whose jurisdiction the office is set up. The Branch / Liaison offices established with the Reserve Bank's approval will be allotted a Unique Identification Number (UIN) ( www.rbi.org.in/scripts/Fema.aspx ). The BOs / LOs shall also obtain Permanent Account Number (PAN) from the Income Tax Authorities on setting up the offices in India.

E. Liaison/Branch offices have to file an Annual Activity Certificate (AACs) from the Auditors, as at end of March 31, along with the audited Balance Sheet on or before September 30 of that year, stating that the Liaison Office has undertaken only those activities permitted by Reserve Bank of India. In case the annual accounts of the LO/ BO are finalized with reference to a date other than March 31, the AAC along with the audited Balance Sheet may be submitted within six months from the due date of the Balance Sheet.

Q.2. What are the permitted activities of Liaison Office/ Representative Office?

Ans. A Liaison Office (also known as Representative Office) can undertake only liaison activities, i.e. it can act as a channel of communication between Head Office abroad and parties in India. It is not allowed to undertake any business activity in India and cannot earn any income in India. Expenses of such offices are to be met entirely through inward remittances of foreign exchange from the Head Office outside India. The role of such offices is, therefore, limited to collecting information about possible market opportunities and providing information about the company and its products to the prospective Indian customers. A Liaison Office can undertake the following activities in India:

i. Representing in India the parent company / group compa­nies.

ii. Promoting export / import from / to India.

iii Promoting technical/financial collaborations be­tween parent/group companies and companies in India.

iv. Acting as a communication channel between the parent company and Indian companies.

Q.3. Can Foreign Insurance Companies / Banks set up Liaison Office in India?

Ans. Foreign Insurance companies can establish Liaison Offices in India only after obtaining approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA). Similarly, foreign banks can establish Liaison Offices in India only after obtaining approval from the Department of Banking Operations and Development (DBOD), Reserve Bank of India.

Q. 4. What is the procedure for setting up Branch office?

Ans. Permission for setting up branch offices is granted by the Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Mumbai. Reserve Bank of India considers the track record of the applicant company, existing trade relations with India, the activity of the company proposing to set up office in India as well as the financial position of the company while scrutinising the application. The application in Form FNC should be submitted to the Reserve Bank through the Authorised Dealer bank.

Q.5. What are the permitted activities of Branch Office?

Ans. Companies incorporated outside India and engaged in manufacturing or trading activities are allowed to set up Branch Offices in India with specific approval of the Reserve Bank. Such Branch Offices are permitted to represent the parent / group companies and undertake the following activities in India:

  • Export / Import of goods.
  • Rendering professional or consultancy services.
  • Carrying out research work, in areas in which the parent company is engaged.
  • Promoting technical or financial collaborations between Indian companies and parent or overseas group company.
  • Representing the parent company in India and acting as buying / selling agent in India.
  • Rendering services in information technology and devel­opment of software in India.
  • Rendering technical support to the products sup­plied by parent/group companies.
  • Foreign airline / shipping company.
  • Normally, the Branch Office should be engaged in the activity in which the parent company is engaged.
Note:

Retail trading activities of any nature is not allowed for a Branch Office in India.
A Branch Office is not allowed to carry out manufacturing or processing activities in India, directly or indirectly.
Profits earned by the Branch Offices are freely remittable from India, subject to payment of applicable taxes.

Q.6. Whether Branch Offices are permitted to remit profit outside India?

Ans. Branch Offices are permitted to remit outside India profit of the branch net of applicable Indian taxes, on production of the following documents to the satisfaction of the Authorised Dealer through whom the remittance is effected :

a. A Certified copy of the audited Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss account for the relevant year;

b. A Chartered Accountant’s certificate certifying -

i. the manner of arriving at the remittable profit

ii. that the entire remittable profit has been earned by undertaking the permitted activities

iii. that the profit does not include any profit on revaluation of the assets of the branch.

Q.7 What are the documents to be submitted to the AD bank at the time of closure of the Liaison/ Branch Office?

Ans. At the time of winding up of Branch/Liaison offices, the company has to approach the designated AD Category - I bank with the following documents:

a) Copy of the Reserve Bank's permission/ approval from the sectoral regulator(s) for establishing the BO / LO.

b) Auditor’s certificate - i) indicating the manner in which the remittable amount has been arrived at and supported by a statement of assets and liabilities of the applicant, and indicating the manner of disposal of assets;

ii) confirming that all liabilities in India including arrears of gratuity and other benefits to employees, etc., of the Office have been either fully met or adequately provided for; and

iii) confirming that no income accruing from sources outside India (including proceeds of exports) has remained un-repatriated to India.

c) No-objection / Tax Clearance Certificate from Income-Tax authority for the remittance/s.

d) Confirmation from the applicant/parent company that no legal proceedings in any Court in India are pending and there is no legal impediment to the remittance.

e) A report from the Registrar of Companies regarding compliance with the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956, in case of winding up of the Office in India.

f) Any other document/s, specified by the Reserve Bank while granting approval.

Q.8. What is the procedure for setting up Project Office?

Ans. The Reserve Bank has granted general permission to foreign companies to establish Project Offices in India, provided they have secured a contract from an Indian company to execute a project in India, and the project is funded directly by inward remittance from abroad; or the project is funded by a bilateral or multilateral International Financing Agency; or the project has been cleared by an appropriate authority; or a company or entity in India awarding the contract has been granted Term Loan by a Public Financial Institution or a bank in India for the project.

However, if the above criteria are not met or if the parent entity is established in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran or China, such applications have to be forwarded to the Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Mumbai for approval.

Q.9. What are the bank accounts permitted to a Project Office?

Ans. AD Category – I banks can open non-interest bearing Foreign Currency Account for Project Offices in India subject to the following:

The Project Office has been established in India, with the general / specific permission of Reserve Bank, having the requisite approval from the concerned Project Sanctioning Authority concerned.

The contract, under which the project has been sanctioned, specifically provides for payment in foreign currency.

Each Project Office can open two Foreign Currency Accounts, usually one denominated in USD and other in home currency, provided both are maintained with the same AD category–I bank.

The permissible debits to the account shall be payment of project related expenditure and credits shall be foreign currency receipts from the Project Sanctioning Authority, and remittances from parent/ group company abroad or bilateral / multilateral international financing agency.

The responsibility of ensuring that only the approved debits and credits are allowed in the Foreign Currency Account shall rest solely with the branch concerned of the AD. Further, the Accounts shall be subject to 100 per cent scrutiny by the Concurrent Auditor of the respective AD banks.

The Foreign Currency accounts have to be closed at the completion of the Project.

Q.10. What are the general conditions applicable to Liaison / Branch / Project Office of foreign entities in India?

Ans. The general conditions applicable to Liaison/Branch/Project Office of foreign entities in India are as under;

(i) Without prior permission of the Reserve Bank, no person being a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran or China can establish in India, a Branch or a Liaison Office or a Project Office or any other place of business.

(ii) Partnership / Proprietary concerns set up abroad are not allowed to establish Branch /Liaison/Project Offices in India.

(iii) Entities from Nepal are allowed to establish only Liaison Offices in India.

(iv) Branch/Project Offices of a foreign entity, excluding a Liaison Office are permitted to acquire property for their own use and to carry out permitted/incidental activities but not for leasing or renting out the property. However, entities from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, Bhutan or China are not allowed to acquire immovable property in India even for a Branch Office. These entities are allowed to lease such property for a period not exceeding five years.

(v) Branch / Liaison / Project Offices are allowed to open non-interest bearing INR current accounts in India.

(vi) Transfer of assets of Liaison / Branch Office to subsidiaries or other LO / BO or any other entity is permitted only with the specific approval of the Central Office of the Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India.

(viii) Authorised Dealers can allow term deposit account for a period not exceeding 6 months in favor of a branch/office of a person resident outside India provided the bank is satisfied that the term deposit is out of temporary surplus funds and the branch / office furnishes an undertaking that the maturity proceeds of the term deposit will be utilised for their business in India within 3 months of maturity. However, such facility may not be extended to shipping/airline companies.

(ix) Permission to establish offices, in India by foreign Non-Government Organisations/Non-Profit Organisations/Foreign Government Bodies/Departments, by whatever name called, are under the Government Route as specified in A. P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 23 dated December 30, 2009. Such entities are required to apply to the Reserve Bank for prior permission to establish an office in India, whether Project Office or otherwise.

VII. Investment by QFIs

Q 1. What are QFIs and what are the investments they can undertake?

Ans. QFIs mean a person who fulfils the following criteria :

(a) Resident in a country that is a member of Financial Action task Force (FATF) or a member of a group which is a member of FATF; and

(b) Resident in a country that is a signatory to IOSCO’s MMoU (Appendix A Signatories) or a signatory of a bilateral MoU with SEBI

PROVIDED that the person is not resident in a country listed in the public statements issued by FATF from time to time on jurisdictions having a strategic AML/CFT deficiencies to which counter measures apply or that have not made sufficient progress in addressing the deficiencies or have not committed to an action plan developed with the FATF to address the deficiencies;

Further such person is not resident in India and is not registered with SEBI as a Foreign Institutional Investor (FII) or Sub-Account of an FII or Foreign Venture Capital Investor (FVCI).

Explanation: “bilateral MoU with SEBI” shall mean a bilateral MoU between SEBI and the overseas regulator that, inter alia, provides for information sharing arrangements.

Member of FATF shall not mean an associate member of FATF.

Q2. What are the investments QFIs can undertake and what are the applicable caps for such investment?

Ans. Rupee denominated units of equity schemes of domestic MFs

The QFIs may invest in rupee denominated units of equity schemes of domestic MFs directly issued by the SEBI registered domestic MFs under the two routes, namely the Direct Route – SEBI registered Depository Participant (DP) route and the Indirect Route - Unit Confirmation Receipt (UCR) route (no secondary market purchases are allowed )

Investments by the QFIs will have a ceiling of USD 10 billion under both the routes. Units and UCRs issued under this scheme to QFIs, are non-tradable and non-transferable.

Domestic MF debt schemes which invest in infrastructure debt

QFIs are also allowed to invest (under both the routes – Direct and Indirect), up to an additional amount of USD 3 billion in units of domestic MF debt schemes which invest in infrastructure (“Infrastructure” as defined under the extant ECB guidelines) debt of minimum residual maturity of 5 years, within the existing ceiling of USD 25 billion for FII investment in corporate bonds issued by infrastructure companies.

Equity shares

QFIs are also permitted to invest through SEBI registered Depository Participants in equity shares of listed Indian companies through recognized brokers on recognized stock exchanges in India as well as in equity shares of Indian companies which are offered to public in India in terms of the relevant SEBI guidelines/regulations.

The individual and aggregate investment limits for the QFIs are 5% and 10% respectively of the paid up capital of an Indian company. These limits are over and above the FII and NRI investment ceilings prescribed under the Portfolio Investment Scheme for foreign investment in India. Further, wherever there are composite sectoral caps under the extant FDI policy, these limits for QFI investment in equity shares shall also be within such overall FDI sectoral caps.

QFIs are also permitted to acquire equity shares by way of rights shares, bonus shares or equity shares on account of stock split / consolidation or equity shares on account of amalgamation, demerger or such corporate actions subject to the investment limits prescribed below. QFIs are also allowed to sell the equity shares so acquired by way of sale

Debt securities

Qualified Foreign Investors (QFIs) have been permitted to purchase, on repatriation basis, debt securities through SEBI registered Qualified Depository Participants (QDPs) in eligible corporate debt instruments, viz. listed Non-Convertible Debentures(NCDs), listed bonds of Indian companies, listed units of Mutual Fund debt Schemes and “to be listed” corporate bonds directly from the issuer or through a registered stock broker on a recognized stock exchange in India. The provisions relating to FIIs in case of non-listing of “to be listed” corporate bonds, within 15 days as per A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 89 dated March 1, 2012, are applicable to QFIs.

QFIs are permitted to invest in corporate debt securities (without any lock-in or residual maturity clause) and Mutual Fund debt schemes subject to a total overall ceiling of USD 1 billion. This limit shall be over and above USD 20 billion for FII investment in corporate debt.

QFIs are also be permitted to sell ‘eligible debt securities’ so acquired by way of sale through registered stock broker on a recognized stock exchange in India or by way of buyback or redemption by the issuer.

Mode of payment / repatriation

A QFI may open a single non-interest bearing Rupee Account with an AD Category- I bank in India, for routing the receipt and payment for transactions relating to purchase and sale of units of domestic mutual funds, equity shares of listed Indian companies and eligible debt securities

Demat accounts - QFIs would be allowed to open a single demat account with a QDP in India for investment in all eligible debt securities under the QFI scheme.

Permissible currencies - QFIs will remit foreign inward remittance through normal banking channel in any permitted currency (freely convertible) directly into the single non-interest bearing Rupee account of the QFI maintained with an AD Category-I bank.

Pricing – The pricing of all eligible transactions and investment in all eligible securities by QFIs under this scheme shall be in accordance with the relevant and applicable guidelines issued from time to time.

Hedging – QFIs would be permitted to hedge their currency risk on account of their permissible investments (in equity and debt instruments) in terms of the guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank from time to time, similar to the facilities made available to the FIIs in the matter.

Reporting – In addition to the reporting to SEBI as may be prescribed by them, QDPs and AD Category-I banks (maintaining QFI accounts) are required to ensure reporting to the Reserve Bank of India in a manner and format as prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India from time to time.

Foreign Investments in Infrastructure Debt Funds

Investment on repatriation basis by eligible non-resident investors viz. Sovereign Wealth Funds, Multilateral Agencies, Pension Funds, Insurance Funds and Endowment Funds which are registered with SEBI as eligible non- resident investors in IDFs is allowed in Rupee and Foreign currency denominated bonds issued by the Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDFs) set up as an Indian company and registered as Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) with the Reserve Bank of India and in (ii) Rupee denominated units issued by IDFs set up as SEBI registered domestic Mutual Funds(MFs), in accordance with the terms and conditions stipulated by the SEBI and the Reserve Bank of India from time to time.

The original / initial maturity of all aforementioned securities at the time of first investment by a non resident investor is five years and subject to a lock in period of 3 years.

All non-resident investment in IDFs (other than NRIs) (in both Rupee and Foreign Currency denominated securities) are within an overall cap / limit of USD 10 billion. This cap / limit of USD 10 billion would be within the overall cap of USD 25 billion for FII investment in bonds / non convertible debentures issued by Indian companies in the infrastructure sector (where infrastructure is as defined under the extant ECB guidelines) or by Infrastructure Finance Companies (IFCs registered as NBFCs with the Reserve Bank).

The facility of foreign exchange hedging would be available to the eligible non-resident IDF investors, IDFs as well as the infrastructure project companies exposed to the foreign exchange/ currency risk

Q: What are the reporting requirements for acquisition/transfer of shares by non-residents under respective schedules to FEMA 20?

Ans: Following are the reporting requirements

(A) Reporting of FDI for fresh issuance of shares

(i) Reporting of inflow

(a) The actual inflows on account of such issuance of shares shall be reported by the AD branch in the R-returns in the normal course.

(b) An Indian company receiving investment from outside India for issuing shares / convertible debentures / preference shares under the FDI Scheme, should report the details of the amount of consideration to the Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank through it’s AD Category I bank, not later than 30 days from the date of receipt in the Advance Reporting Form enclosed in Annex - 6. Noncompliance with the above provision would be reckoned as a contravention under

FEMA, 1999 and could attract penal provisions.

The Form can also be downloaded from the Reserve Bank's website

http://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_ViewFemaForms.aspx.

 (c) Indian companies are required to report the details of the receipt of the amount of consideration for issue of shares / convertible debentures, through an AD Category - I bank, together with a copy/ies of the FIRC/s evidencing the receipt of the remittance along with the KYC report on the non-resident investor from the overseas bank remitting the amount. The report would be acknowledged by the Regional Office concerned, which will allot a Unique Identification Number (UIN) for the amount reported.

(ii) Time frame within which shares have to be issued

The equity instruments should be issued within 180 days from the date of receipt of the inward remittance or by debit to the NRE/FCNR (B) /Escrow account of the non-resident investor. In case, the equity instruments are not issued within 180 days from the date of receipt of the inward remittance or date of debit to the NRE/FCNR (B) account, the amount of consideration so received should be refunded immediately to the non-resident investor by outward remittance through normal banking channels or by credit to the NRE/FCNR (B)/Escrow account, as the case may be. Non-compliance with the above provision would be reckoned as a contravention under FEMA and could attract penal provisions. In exceptional cases, refund / allotment of shares for the amount of consideration outstanding beyond a period of 180 days from the date of receipt may be considered by the Reserve Bank, on the merits of the case.

(iii) Reporting of issue of shares

(a) After issue of shares (including bonus and shares issued on rights basis and shares issued on conversion of stock option under ESOP scheme)/ convertible debentures / convertible preference shares, the Indian company has to file Form FC-GPR, through it’s AD Category I bank, not later than 30 days from the date of issue of shares. The Form can also be downloaded from the Reserve Bank's website http://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_ViewFemaForms.aspx.

Non-compliance with the above provision would be reckoned as a contravention under FEMA and could attract penal provisions.

(b) Form FC-GPR has to be duly filled up and signed by Managing Director/Director/Secretary of the Company and submitted to the Authorised Dealer of the company, who will forward it to the concerned Regional Office of the Reserve Bank. The following documents have to be submitted along with Form FC-GPR:

(i) A certificate from the Company Secretary of the company certifying that :

a) all the requirements of the Companies Act, 1956 have been complied with;

b) terms and conditions of the Government’s approval, if any, have been complied with;

c) the company is eligible to issue shares under these Regulations; and

d) the company has all original certificates issued by AD banks in India evidencing receipt of amount of consideration.

(ii) A certificate from SEBI registered Merchant Banker or Chartered Accountant indicating the manner of arriving at the price of the shares issued to the persons resident outside India.

(c) The report of receipt of consideration as well as Form FC-GPR have to be submitted by the AD bank to the Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank under whose jurisdiction the registered office of the company is situated.

(d) Issue of bonus/rights shares or shares on conversion of stock options issued under ESOP to persons resident outside India directly or on amalgamation / merger with an existing Indian company, as well as issue of shares on conversion of ECB / royalty / lumpsum technical know-how fee / import of capital goods by units in SEZs has to be reported in Form FC-GPR.

B. Reporting of FDI for Transfer of shares route

(i) The actual inflows and outflows on account of such transfer of shares shall be reported by the AD branch in the R-returns in the normal course.

(ii) Reporting of transfer of shares between residents and non-residents and vice- versa is to be made in Form FC-TRS. The Form FC-TRS should be submitted to the AD Category – I bank, within 60 days from the date of receipt of the amount of consideration. The onus of submission of the Form FC-TRS within the given timeframe would be on the transferor / transferee, resident in India.

(iii) The sale consideration in respect of equity instruments purchased by a person resident outside India, remitted into India through normal banking channels, shall be subjected to a KYC check (Annex 9-ii) by the remittance receiving AD Category – I bank at the time of receipt of funds. In case, the remittance receiving AD Category – I bank is different from the AD Category - I bank handling the transfer transaction, the KYC check should be carried out by the remittance receiving bank and the KYC report be submitted by the customer to the AD Category – I bank carrying out the transaction along with the Form FC-TRS.

(iv) The AD bank should scrutinise the transactions and on being satisfied about the transactions should certify the form FC-TRS as being in order.

(v) The AD bank branch should submit two copies of the Form FC-TRS received from their constituents/customers together with the statement of inflows/outflows on account of remittances received/made in connection with transfer of shares, by way of sale, to IBD/FED/or the nodal office designated for the purpose by the bank in the proforma (which is to be prepared in MS-Excel format). The IBD/FED or the nodal office of the bank will consolidate reporting in respect of all the transactions reported by their branches into two statements inflow and outflow statement. These statements (inflow and outflow) should be forwarded on a monthly basis to Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank, Foreign Investment Division, Central Office, Mumbai in soft copy (in MS- Excel) by e-mail. The bank should maintain the FC-TRS forms with it and should not forward the same to the Reserve Bank of India.

(vi) The transferee/his duly appointed agent should approach the investee company to record the transfer in their books along with the certificate in the Form FC-TRS from the AD branch that the remittances have been received by the transferor/payment has been made by the transferee. On receipt of the certificate from the AD, the company may record the transfer in its books.

(vi) On receipt of statements from the AD bank , the Reserve Bank may call for such additional details or give such directions as required from the transferor/transferee or their agents, if need be.

C. Reporting of conversion of ECB into equity

Details of issue of shares against conversion of ECB have to be reported to the Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank, as indicated below:

In case of full conversion of ECB into equity, the company shall report the conversion in Form FC-GPR to the Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank as well as in Form ECB-2 to the Department of Statistics and Information Management (DSIM), Reserve Bank of India, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Mumbai – 400 051, within seven working days from the close of month to which it relates. The words "ECB wholly converted to equity" shall be clearly indicated on top of the Form ECB-2. Once reported, filing of Form ECB-2 in the subsequent months is not necessary.

In case of partial conversion of ECB, the company shall report the converted portion in Form FC-GPR to the Regional Office concerned as well as in Form ECB-2 clearly differentiating the converted portion from the non-converted portion. The words "ECB partially converted to equity" shall be indicated on top of the Form ECB-2. In the subsequent months, the outstanding balance of ECB shall be reported in Form ECB-2 to DSIM.

The SEZ unit issuing equity as mentioned in para (iii) above, should report the particulars of the shares issued in the Form FC-GPR.

D. Reporting of ESOPs for allotment of equity shares

The issuing company is required to report the details of issuance of ESOPs to its employees to the Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank, in plain paper reporting, within 30 days from the date of issue of ESOPs. Further, at the time of conversion of options into shares the Indian company has to ensure reporting to the Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank in form FC-GPR, within 30 days of allotment of such shares. However, provision with regard to advance reporting would not be applicable for such issuances.

E. Reporting of ADR/GDR Issues

The Indian company issuing ADRs / GDRs has to furnish to the Reserve Bank, full details of such issue in the Form enclosed in Annex -10, within 30 days from the date of closing of the issue. The company should also furnish a quarterly return in the prescribed Form, to the Reserve Bank within 15 days of the close of the calendar quarter. The quarterly return has to be submitted till the entire amount raised through ADR/GDR mechanism is either repatriated to India or utilized abroad as per the extant Reserve Bank guidelines.

F. Reporting of FII investments under PIS scheme

(i) FII reporting: The AD Category – I banks have to ensure that the FIIs registered with SEBI who are purchasing various securities (except derivative and IDRs) by debit to the Special Non-Resident Rupee Account should report all such transactions details (except derivative and IDRs) in the Form LEC (FII) to Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India, Central Office by uploading the same to the ORFS web site (https://secweb.rbi.org.in/ORFSMainWeb/Login.jsp). It would be the banks responsibility to ensure that the data submitted to RBI is reconciled by periodically taking a FII holding report for their bank.

(iii) The Indian company which has issued shares to FIIs under the FDI Scheme (for which the payment has been received directly into company’s account) and the Portfolio Investment Scheme (for which the payment has been received from FIIs' account maintained with an AD Category – I bank in India) should report these figures separately under item no. 5 of Form FC-GPR (Annex - 8) (Post-issue pattern of shareholding) so that the details could be suitably reconciled for statistical / monitoring purposes.

G. Reporting of NRI investments under PIS scheme

The link office of the designated branch of an AD Category – I bank shall furnish to the Reserve Bank18, a report on a daily basis on PIS transactions undertaken by it, on behalf of NRIs. This report can be furnished on a floppy to the Reserve Bank and also uploaded directly on the OFRS web site (https://secweb.rbi.org.in/ORFSMainWeb/Login.jsp). It would be the banks responsibility to ensure that the data submitted to RBI is reconciled by periodically taking a NRI holding report for their bank.

H. Reporting of foreign investment by way of issue / transfer of ‘participating interest/right’ in oil fields

Foreign investment by way of issue / transfer of ‘participating interest/right’ in oil fields by Indian companies to a non resident would be treated as an FDI transaction under the extant FDI policy and the FEMA regulations. Accordingly, transfer of ‘participating interest/ rights’ will be reported as ‘other’ category under Para 7 of revised Form FC-TRS and issuance of ‘participating interest/ rights’ will be reported as ‘other’ category of instruments under Para 4 of Form FCGPR.

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