Private equity investors bring in deals worth $983 mn in January: Thornton

January was dominated by investments in start-ups which contributed to 52% of total investment volumes

Private equity (PE) investors announced deals worth $983 million in January, a 23 per cent rise in value terms over last year, driven by big ticket transactions, says a Grant Thornton report.

According to the assurance, tax and advisory firm, in January, there were 84 PE deals worth $983 million, against 81 such transactions worth $796 million in January 2017.

“Private equity deals recorded 4 per cent increase in deal volumes and 23 per cent increase in deal value in January 2018 as compared to January 2017,” said Pankaj Chopda Director at Grant Thornton India LLP.

January was dominated by investments in start-ups which contributed to 52 per cent of total investment volumes. On the other hand, energy & natural resources and real estate sectors witnessed big-ticket PE investment over $100 million together capturing 39 per cent of total PE deal values.

Altico Capital’s investment of $195 million across five realty projects in Hyderabad and Pune was the top PE deal in January.

Other major transactions include Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s 6 per cent stake acquisition in ReNew Power Ventures for $144 million and Warburg Pincus and SAIF Partners’ $50 million investment in Rivigo Services.

Going forward, the PE deal outlook looks bullish especially for the start-up sector.

“Increasing customer penetration in online transactions and increasing solutions to simplify online transactions offered by start-ups will attract interest in start-ups engaged in retail, fintech, foodtech, on demand services and travel and logistics,” Chopda said.

“Government reforms such as RERA, focus on cleantech and on increasing digital financial transactions will drive the momentum in banking and financial, real estate and energy and natural resources.

India-specific strategies by global and already present PE firms and funds raised by new players will act as catalyst for PE transactions,” he added.

Source: Business Standard


No more rejection for start-ups seeking tax sops

Companies will be given a chance to amend and re-submit proposals, says DIPP

In what could be a morale booster for start-ups, the government has decided to do away with the practice of rejecting applications for tax sops.

Instead, start-ups will get an opportunity to apply again after making changes to the proposal based on the explanation given to them on the initial one.

Supportive policy

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion is also reworking the qualification criteria for start-ups for non-tax benefits, a government official told Business Line.

“Instead of dismissing proposals that do not meet the mark for tax-sops with a simple ‘rejected’, the inter-ministerial group examining it will give details of where they fell short. This will give the start-ups an opportunity to rework their proposals, and apply again for tax benefits,” the official said. “There has been no change in the criteria of judging whether a start-up qualifies for tax benefits. It still depends on how innovative the idea is.”

In the last meeting of the Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) on startups which met on May 1, about a dozen applications were approved.

The change in the Central government’s stance has been triggered by a general sense of dissatisfaction among start-ups with the new policy, as only about 10 proposals had qualified for tax sops till last month out of the 140 proposals vetted by the inter-ministerial group since the policy was announced last year. “The DIPP has decided to be a bit more empathetic while dealing with start-ups. After all, what good are tax sops if very few are able to benefit from it,” the official said. The 130 applicants for tax apps, who were rejected over the past year, will also get a detailed note on why their cases did not pass the test. As per the existing rules, start-ups (companies and Limited Liability Partnerships or LLPs) can get income tax exemption for three years in a block of seven years, if they are incorporated between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2019.

Expanding definition

An IMG, including officials from the Department of Bio-technology, Department of Science and Technology and the DIPP, examine the proposals on the basis of innovation and use, and determine whether they qualify for tax sops or not.

“An official from the Ministry of Electronics, IT and Technology has been added to the IMG from May 1,” the official said.

The DIPP will come up with a new set of rules over the next few weeks, tweaking the definition of a start-up that will result in more companies and LLPs coming under in the category.


India will be home to 10,500 start-ups by 2020: Report

India continues to harbour the third largest start-up base, marginally behind the U.K., according to a Nasscom-Zinnov start-up report.

The report, titled “Indian Start-up Ecosystem Maturing – 2016,” says that the ecosystem is poised to grow by an impressive 2.2X to reach more than 10,500 start-ups by the year 2020 despite the popular belief that the Indian start-up ecosystem is slowing down.

There is an increased interest from student entrepreneurs this year, according to the report. A remarkable growth of 25 per cent has been witnessed in 2016 with over 350 ventures founded by young students. The median age of start-up founders has reduced marginally from 32 years in 2015 to 31 years in 2016.

“Technology start-ups are creating a new identity for India and its technological prowess,” said R. Chandrashekhar, President of the IT industry body Nasscom, in a statement. “They are defining the way the world operates making life better and easier for people and businesses alike.”

Some of the notable findings of the report include; continued growth in the number of start-ups in 2016, with Bengaluru, the National Capital Region, and Mumbai continuing to lead as major start-up hubs for the nation.

In terms of vertical growth, investors are looking at the domains like health-tech, fin-tech, and edu-tech. With a total funding of approximately $4 billion, close to 650 young firms were funded signifying an aware and healthy growth of the ecosystem, according to the report.
The number of technology firms in India is expected to grow by 10-12 per cent to over 4,750 start-ups by the end of 2016, according to the report. Interestingly over 1400 new ventures have emerged in 2016 denoting that the ecosystem is becoming prudent with both investors and start-up founders focusing on profitability and optimising the overall spend.

With this impetus, India will become home to over 10,500 start-ups by 2020, employing over 210,000 people reveals the report.

“Today, India is brimming with new ideas which need the right guidance and funding to be scalable for the market,” said C.P. Gurnani, Chairman, Nasscom, in a statement.


India ranks 130th in ease of doing business index

India continues to rank low at 130th position in terms of ease of doing business, with the country seeing little or no improvement in dealing with construction permits, getting credit and other parameters.

In the World Bank’s latest ‘Doing Business’ report, India’s place remained unchanged from last year’s original ranking of 130 among the 190 economies that were assessed on various parameters. However, the last year’s ranking has been now revised to 131 from which the country has improved its place by one spot.

The government has been making efforts to further improve the ease of doing business and aims to bring the country in the top 50.

Expressing disappointment over no change in India’s ranking in the World Bank’s index on ease of doing business, Indian government regretted that the report did not take into consideration 12 key reforms undertaken by the government.

When it comes to ‘distance to frontier’ — a measurement of the gap between an economy’s performance and the best practice score of 100 — India’s score has improved to 55.27 this year from 53.93 last year.

India is the only country for which the report has a box dedicated to its ongoing economic reforms.

The list of countries in the Doing Business 2017 is topped by New Zealand while Singapore is ranked second. It is followed by Denmark, Hong Kong, South Korea, Norway, the UK, the US, Sweden and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Neighbouring Pakistan is ranked 144th in the list.

On the basis of reforms undertaken, the top 10 improvers are Brunei Darussalam, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Belarus, Indonesia, Serbia, Georgia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

A record 137 economies around the world have adopted key reforms that make it easier to start and operate small and medium-sized businesses, the report said.

Developing countries carried out more than 75 per cent of the 283 reforms in the past year, with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for over one-quarter of all reforms, it added.

“What we have seen is a remarkable effort on the part of the government to implement business reforms. It looks like we are going to have to wait for another year or so. But the direction of change is fundamentally a very significant one,” Global Indicators Group Director Augusto Lopez-Claros told PTI in an interview.

The rankings are based on ten parameters — starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

India has improved its ranking with respect to various areas. In terms of getting electricity, the country’s position has jumped to 26th spot from 51st place last year.

When it comes to trading across borders, the ranking has moved up one place to 143, and in enforcing contracts the rise is of six spots to 172nd position.

However, with respect to starting a business, the ranking has slipped four places to 155th spot and in the case of dealing with construction permits by one rank to 185th.

As per the report, India’s ranking in terms of protecting minority investors dropped to 13th place from 10th position last year.

With regard to getting credit, the ranking has fallen by two places to 44.

Explaining as to why India’s reform efforts is not being reflected in the ease of doing business report, Lopez-Claros said it very often takes some time for the reforms implemented by governments about the regulatory environment to be felt on the ground by the business community.

Rita Ramalho, Manager of the Doing Business project said that there were in fact improvements this year.

“There are four areas of improvement this year in India getting electricity, trading across border, enforcing contracts and paying taxes,” Ramalho told PTI.

India’s ranking is based on the study of the system in the two cities of Mumbai and New Delhi.

“The reason why there is no real movement in the ranking is more to do with the fact that other countries are also moving. In absolute terms India, does improve significantly.

There aren’t many countries that improved more than India in terms of absolute number,” Ramalho said.

The ‘Doing Business’ project provides objective measures of business regulations for local firms in economies and selected cities at the sub-national level.

The World Bank is emphasising that countries pay attention to what it calls “distance to frontier” which is an absolute metric, Lopez-Claros said.

“There has been actually substantial increase in the last 12 months in India by couple of percentage points, which is quite large,” he noted.


Foreign VCs can now invest in unlisted firms sans RBI nod

Foreign venture capital entities can now invest in unlisted Indian companies without Reserve Bank of India approval.

The venture capital firm will, however, have to be registered with market regulator SEBI. The investment can be made in an Indian company in 10 specific sectors or in any start-up.

The central bank on Thursday amended the regulations governing foreign venture capital investors (FVCI) in order to further liberalise and rationalise the investment regime and to give a fillip to foreign investment in start-ups.

According to the RBI, the 10 sectors in which SEBI-registered FVCIs can invest without its nod are: biotechnology, IT, nanotechnology, seed research and development, discovery of new chemical entities in pharmaceutical sector, dairy industry, poultry industry, production of bio-fuels, hotel-cum-convention centres with over 3,000 seating capacity, and infrastructure sector. FVCIs can also invest in equity, equity-linked instruments or debt instruments issued by an Indian ‘start-up’ irrespective of the sector in which it is engaged. The RBI said a start-up will mean an entity (private limited company, registered partnership firm or a limited liability partnership) incorporated or registered in India not prior to five years, with an annual turnover not exceeding Rs. 25 crore in any preceding financial year.

These start-ups should be working towards innovation, development, deployment or commercialisation of new products, processes or services driven by technology or intellectual property and satisfying certain conditions as given in the Foreign Exchange Management Regulations, 2016.

The RBI also said FVCIs can invest in units of a venture capital fund (VCF) or a Category-I alternative investment fund (AIF) or units of a scheme/fund set up by a VCF or by a Category-I AIF.

In a circular issued to banks authorised to deal in foreign exchange, the RBI said: “In order to further liberalise and rationalise the investment regime for FVCIs and to give a fillip to foreign investment in the start-ups, the extant regulatory provisions have been reviewed, in consultation with the Government of India.”

The consideration for all investments by an FVCI can be paid out of inward remittance from abroad through normal banking channels or out of sale/maturity proceeds of or income generated from investment already made. There will be no restriction on transfer of any security/instrument held by the FVCI to any person resident in or outside India.


Young entrepreneurs to get more funding from govt

To support young entrepreneurs, the central government will launch ‘special funds’ for those in the 16-21 years and 21-26 years age groups.

“It’s on the drawing board. We have accumulated funds worth Rs 9,000 crore under the technology cess category, and we want to use this. We might launch incubation centres, innovation hubs and even funds. This country requires investments of Rs 10,000 crore annually if we want to give boost to entrepreneurship,” said Y S Chowdary, ministry of state for science & technology and earth sciences.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the 11th edition of Indian Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park & Business Incubators Association (Isba) here on Saturday.

The fund will be over and above the Rs 10,000 crore fund-of-funds for start-ups announced by the government early this year.

Over the past two years, the funding to several government departments supporting incubation in India has seen a spurt. H K Mittal, advisor, Department of Science and Technology (DST), said that the support for incubators has gone up 10 times.

“DST’s finance has gone up by at least 4.5x to Rs 180 crore for FY17. Several of our programmes like ‘Power of Idea’, Eureka and Entrepreneur-in-residence have seen their fund corpus going up. Our seed support programme has gone up five times. We can now fund start-ups starting from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore,” he added.

According to Kshatrapati Shivaji, chairman and managing director of Sidbi, the idea behind creating the fund-of-funds was to give a push to domestic venture capitalists (VCs). “We have already committed Rs 800 crore across 19 VCs, which, in turn, will mobilise the investments.”

The event also saw the signing of the first Indo-US Joint Early Stage Fund with a corpus of $40 million. About 50 per cent contribution for the fund comes from incubators that come under Isba and India Electronics & Semiconductor Association and the rest of the funds will have contribution from high net worth individuals based out of the US and serial entrepreneurs such as Sanjay Sharma, CEO of Roambee Corporation. At present, Isba supports around 100 incubators across India.


  • The Centre to launch ‘special funds’ for those in the 16-21 years and 21-26 years age groups
  • The govt has accumulated funds worth Rs 9,000 crore under the technology cess category, said Y S Chowdary, ministry of state for science & technology and earth sciences
  • Over the past two years, the funding to several government departments supporting incubation in India has seen a spurt
  • Government’s seed support programme has gone up five times. The Centre plans to fund start-ups starting from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore
  • The 11th edition of Isba (Indian Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park & Business Incubators Association) also saw signing of first Indo-US Joint Early Stage Fund with a corpus of $40 million


IPOs of start-ups in India: Retail investors participation may get cleared

Retail investors might soon be allowed to participate in the initial public offerings (IPOs) of start-ups with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) planning to scrap the Institutional Trading Platform (ITP) for these firms. The move comes after the platform failed to witness a single listing since it was launched last year.

Sources privy to the development said instead of providing an exclusive platform for start-ups, Sebi is now planning to allow start-ups to list on the regular platform. However, some relaxations would be provided  in terms of disclosures and compliance norms. Sebi is planning to amend both the Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements (ICDR) and Listing Obligations and Requirements (LODR) regulations, accordingly.

As per the regulations relating to Capital Raising and Listing on Institutional Trading Platform regulations for start- ups, only institutional investors and high-net worth individuals (HNIs) are allowed to trade on ITP and the minimum ticket size was `10 lakh. Retail investors were not allowed to invest in such issues as the markets regulator felt small investors should be safeguarded against a higher level of risks associated with the platform.

Several start-ups have expressed concerns about the liquidity on ITP. Further, not even a single company has filed for an IPO on the special platform till date. Hence, Sebi wanted to review the regulations and address the concerns raised by the start-ups,” said a member of Sebi Primary Markets Advisory Committee (PMAC).

Allowing start-ups to list on the regular platform would also address the concerns regarding the minimum institutional ownership clause in the regulations. As per the current regulations, to be eligible to raise funds via an IPO, 50% of the pre-issue capital of the company must be held by qualified institutional buyers (QIBs). In the case of e-commerce and technology start-ups, 25% of the pre-issue capital should be owned by institutional investors.

In August 2015, the regulator had announced a new set of listing regulations for start-ups operating in the e-commerce space in sectors such as information technology (IT), data analytics and biotechnology.The regulations provided several relaxations to start-ups keeping in mind the unique nature of the industry including removal of caps on the money spent by start-ups on publicity and advertisements as they need to spend much more for such purposes.

Infibeam, an e-commerce company that went for an IPO in the current calendar year, chose to list on the main board instead of the ITP. Although the company filed its draft prospectus with the regulator before the ITP was announced, the company had a choice to migrate, subsequently. According to investment bankers, the company didn’t choose ITP because of concerns about the platform.