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RBI norms on corporate bonds will increase liquidity: Moody’s

Reserve Bank’s guidelines on corporate bond issuance will enhance liquidity and are credit positive, Moody’s Investors Service said today.

Further, the new guidelines permitting banks to issue Basel-III compliant additional tier 1 (core capital) and tier II (mainly debt) securities by way of rupee-denominated bonds overseas are credit positive because they will help create an alternative funding source for the banks’ capital needs, it said.

“We expect that only well-rated and well-managed banks will be able to tap the international market for such issuance,” Moody’s said.

To deepen the corporate bond market, RBI yesterday announced a slew of changes in fixed income and currency markets such as allowing lenders to issue ‘masala bonds’ and will accept corporate bonds under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF).

“The RBI’s new guidelines on corporate bond issuance will enhance liquidity in the bond market, a credit positive,” Moody’s said.

At present, the corporate bond market accounts for around 31 per cent of total credit to the corporate sector in India. While the measures represent “an important step forward”, other hurdles will have to be overcome to enhance liquidity and increase its size, it said.

Observing that about 95 per cent of corporate debt issued so far have been dominated by private placements through banks, Moody’s said, “There is lack of functional trading systems for corporate bonds, thereby impeding the growth of a secondary market.”

As regards issuance of masala bonds, Moody’s said banks currently face significant challenges in raising AT1 capital in the domestic market, given the complex nature of these instruments and the shallow domestic bond market.

Furthermore, most domestic AT1 issuance has been privately placed, providing investors with limited liquidity.

“The weaker banks are unlikely to be able to avail themselves of this opportunity and will continue to rely on the Indian government for their capital needs,” it said.

Based on the financial performance of these banks for the year ended March 2016, “our analysis suggests that the external capital requirements for the 11 public banks Moody’s rates total about Rs 1.2 lakh crore, a figure that far exceeds the remaining Rs 45,000 crore included in the government’s budget for capital distribution to the banks until 2020”.

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