Permissible Direct And Indirect Foreign Investment In An Indian Company

This is the fifth article of the series. The previous articles in this regard are consolidated FDI policy of India 2012 by DIPP: objectives, consolidated FDI policy of India 2012 by DIPP: definitions, consolidated FDI policy of India 2012 by DIPP: general provisions, FDI in limited liability partnerships (LLPs) in India 2012.

In this article Perry4Law and Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) would discuss calculation of foreign investment, total foreign investment limits, direct and indirect foreign investment in Indian companies, etc.

As per the consolidated FDI circular 2012 issued by DIPP:

(1) Investment in Indian companies can be made both by non-resident as well as resident Indian entities. Any non-resident investment in an Indian company is direct foreign investment. Investment by resident Indian entities could again comprise of both resident and non-resident investment. Thus, such an Indian company would have indirect foreign investment if the Indian investing company has foreign investment in it. The indirect investment can also be a cascading investment i.e. through multi-layered structure.

(2) For the purpose of computation of indirect Foreign investment, Foreign Investment in Indian company shall include all types of foreign investments i.e. FDI; investment by FIIs (holding as on March 31); NRIs; ADRs; GDRs; Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCB); fully, compulsorily and mandatorily convertible preference shares and fully,compulsorily and mandatorily convertible Debentures regardless of whether the said investments have been made under Schedule 1, 2, 3 and 6 of FEM (Transfer or Issue of Security by Persons Resident Outside India) Regulations, 2000.

(3) Guidelines for calculation of total foreign investment i.e. direct and indirect foreign investment in an Indian company.

(i) Counting the Direct Foreign Investment: All investment directly by a non-resident entity into the Indian company would be counted towards foreign investment.

(ii) Counting of indirect foreign Investment:

(a) The foreign investment through the investing Indian company would not be considered for calculation of the indirect foreign investment in case of Indian companies which are owned and controlled by resident Indian citizens and/or Indian Companies which are owned and controlled by resident Indian citizens.

(b) For cases where condition (a) above is not satisfied or if the investing company is owned or controlled by non resident entities‘, the entire investment by the investing
company into the subject Indian Company would be considered as indirect foreign investment,

provided that, as an exception, the indirect foreign investment in only the 100% owned subsidiaries of operating-cum-investing/investing companies, will be limited to the foreign investment in the operating-cum-investing/ investing company. This exception is made since the downstream investment of a 100% owned subsidiary of the holding company is akin to investment made by the holding company and the downstream investment should be a mirror image of the holding company. This exception, however, is strictly for those cases where the entire capital of the downstream subsidiary is owned by the holding company.

Illustration

To illustrate, if the indirect foreign investment is being calculated for Company X which has investment through an investing Company Y having foreign investment, the following would be the method of calculation:

(a) Where Company Y has foreign investment less than 50%- Company X would not be taken as having any indirect foreign investment through Company Y.

(b) Where Company Y has foreign investment of say 75% and:

(i) invests 26% in Company X, the entire 26% investment by Company Y would be treated as indirect foreign investment in Company X;
(ii) Invests 80% in Company X, the indirect foreign investment in Company X would be taken as 80%
(iii) Where Company X is a wholly owned subsidiary of Company Y (i.e. Company Y owns 100% shares of Company X), then only 75% would be treated as indirect foreign equity and the balance 25% would be treated as resident held equity. The indirect foreign equity in Company X would be computed in the ratio of 75: 25 in the total investment of Company Y in Company X.

(c)The total foreign investment would be the sum total of direct and indirect foreign investment.

(d) The above methodology of calculation would apply at every stage of investment in Indian companies and thus to each and every Indian company.

(e) Additional conditions:

(i) The full details about the foreign investment including ownership details etc. in Indian company(s) and information about the control of the company(s) would be furnished by the Company(s) to the Government of India at the time of seeking approval.

(ii) In any sector/activity, where Government approval is required for foreign investment and in cases where there are any inter-se agreements between/amongst share-holders which have an effect on the appointment of the Board of Directors or on the exercise of voting rights or of creating voting rights disproportionate to shareholding or any incidental matter thereof, such agreements will have to be informed to the approving authority. The approving authority will consider such inter-se agreements for determining ownership and control when considering the case for approval of foreign investment.

(iii) In all sectors attracting sectoral caps, the balance equity i.e. beyond the sectoral foreign investment cap, would specifically be beneficially owned by/held with/in the hands of resident Indian citizens and Indian companies, owned and controlled by resident Indian citizens.

(iv) In the I& B and Defence sectors where the sectoral cap is less than 49%, the company would need to be ‗owned and controlled‘ by resident Indian citizens and Indian companies, which are owned and controlled by resident Indian citizens.

For this purpose, the equity held by the largest Indian shareholder would have to be at least 51% of the total equity, excluding the equity held by Public Sector Banks and Public Financial Institutions, as defined in Section 4A of the Companies Act, 1956. The term largest Indian shareholder‘, used in this clause, will include any or a combination of the following:

(i) In the case of an individual shareholder,

(a) The individual shareholder,
(b) A relative of the shareholder within the meaning of Section 6 of the Companies Act, 1956.
(c) A company/ group of companies in which the individual shareholder/HUF to which he belongs has management and controlling interest.

(ii) In the case of an Indian company,

(a) The Indian company

(b) A group of Indian companies under the same management and ownership control.

For the purpose of this Clause, Indian company shall be a company which must have a resident Indian or a relative as defined under Section 6 of the Companies Act, 1956/ HUF, either singly or in combination holding at least 51% of the shares.

(iii) Provided that, in case of a combination of all or any of the entities mentioned in Sub-Clauses (i) and (ii) of clause 4.1.3(v)(d)(A) above, each of the parties shall have entered into a legally binding agreement to act as a single unit in managing the matters of the applicant company.
If a declaration is made by persons as per section 187C of the Indian Companies Act about a beneficial interest being held by a non resident entity, then even though the investment may be made by a resident Indian citizen, the same shall be counted as foreign investment.

(4) The above mentioned policy and methodology would be applicable for determining the total foreign investment in all sectors, except in sectors where it is specified in a statute or rule there under. The above methodology of determining direct and indirect foreign investment therefore does not apply to the Insurance Sector which will continue to be governed by the relevant Regulation.

(5) Any foreign investment already made in accordance with the guidelines in existence prior to February 13, 2009 (date of issue of Press Note 2 of 2009) would not require any modification to conform to these guidelines. All other investments, past and future, would come under the ambit of these new guidelines.