Auditors barred from putting a value on companies they are auditing

An income tax tribunal has barred auditors from issuing valuation certificates to the companies they are auditing. This is set to impact several tax disputes around valuations in companies including angel tax disputes involving start-ups.

The Bangalore Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) said that auditors of a company cannot double up as accountants especially in situations while dealing with “share valuation for the purpose of excess share-premium taxability.”

In several cases the income tax department has disputed valuations of companies around the time of investments.

The ITAT ruling came in a case where the tax department had challenged valuation of a company by its auditor.

In most cases, valuations of startups were challenged by the tax department, leading to “angel tax.” The angel tax controversy surrounds the valuations during various rounds of startup funding. In several cases, the revenues at startups kept reducing or remained stagnant, but their valuations increased. The taxman is questioning the premiums paid by the investors and wants to categorise them as income that would be taxable at 30%. In most cases, the investments made by angel investors, venture capital funds or any other investor have been challenged by the taxman.

Many accountants and valuers are already facing heat from the tax department. ET had, on December 25, reported that the tax department has started issuing show-cause notices to valuation experts, questioning the premiums several startups fetched during their investments rounds.

Valuation experts, however, say that they merely projected and calculated future growth, using the facts and figures provided by the startups. Many tax experts point out that the tax department’s approach to the fair value as a benchmark for calculating premiums may not be accurate in the context of startups.

Income tax officers claim that the scrutiny on startups is mainly due to concerns that black money may have changed hands.

ITAT Ruling

As SEBI reforms startup listing, SMEs must ensure funds are not misused

SME ExchangeAmid SEBI banning as many as 239 entities for alleged money laundering, taxation consultancy PwC has called for a three-year locking-in for the entire pre-listing capital held by promoters to curb tax evasion and other illegal activities through market platforms.

The agency has called for imposing a similar lock-in even for preferential allotments, as prescribed under the capital and disclosure requirement (ICDR) norms so that only serious investors access the market. The PwC report is part of a BSE-mandated review of SME listing process.

The premier bourse last week said that 100 entities were trading on its SME platform. The regulator Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) on June 29 banned four publicly traded SMEs and 235 other related entities for alledgely misusing the exchange’s platform for money laundering and tax evasion.

The SEBI, in an interim order alleged that these entities made Rs 614 crore in illegal gains through suspected money laundering and tax evasion activities. The four companies banned are EcoFriendly Food Processing Park, Esteem Bio Organic Food Processing, Channel Nine Entertainment and HPC Biosciences. These are traded on the BSE SME Platform.

“The institutional trading platform (ITP) could be utilised as a tool for tax planning by staying invested in an SME for a period more than 12 months and exiting at a very high stock price thereby making huge gains with no tax liability,” PwC said in the report.

Accordingly, the report has suggested that the entire pre-listing capital held by promoters should be locked in for three years as “such restrictive conditions would discourage people from accessing the platform only for tax planning”. The BSE had launched ITP for its SME platform to facilitate start-ups and other SMEs to list without the mandatory IPO process which is time-consuming and capital intensive that small companies can hardly afford.

According to PTI, in addition to allowing SMEs and start-up companies to raise capital, the BSE SME platrfom also provides easier entry and exit options for informed investors like angel investors, venture capitalists and private equity players, apart from offering better visibility and wider investor base and tax benefits to long-term investors.

Meanwhile, the report also called for a reduction in trading lot size and shorter interval for review of lot size after many SMEs, merchant bankers and market-makers cited this as a disincentive for entering the market. The report said market participants want the timeframe to review the lot size to be reduced from the current six months and lower the trading lot requirement of Rs 1 lakh to attract retail investors to the segment.

As SEBI continues to make business easier, it is important SMEs do not eye illegal gains through suspected money laundering and tax evasion activities.


PE fund multiples to raise $1 billion for resurgent India

India-focused funds together raised about $3.1 billion in 2017, according to Preqin data.

Multiples Alternate Asset Management, the private equity fund founded by former ICICI Venture CEO Renuka Ramnath, is set to raise as much as $1billion in what could be one of the largest capital-raising plans by a domestic asset manager.

The programme, which is expected to start in February, will target pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and university endowments in North America, Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The proposed fund will be equivalent to almost one-third of the capital raised by 29 India-focused private equity and venture capital funds in 2017.

The fund is being launched with appetite for long-term capital after a relative lull of almost a decade. Big-ticket asset owners such as pension and sovereign funds have started putting in money since last year, especially after Moody’s Investors Service upgraded India’s sovereign rating outlook, which lifted sentiment towards one of the fastest-growing economies.

Multiples raised its first fund of $400 million in 2011 and its second fund of $750 million in 2016. It has delivered an average internal rate of return (IRR) of 30% to investors, sources said.

The average net IRR of India-focused funds was 14% over the past 10 years, according to London-based data tracker Preqin, compared with the median net IRR of 11.9% across all Asia-based private equity funds of all vintages.

“Yes, we have already started discussions with our existing limited partners and are looking to start marketing roadshows from Febru-ary. We expect the first close by mid of this year and a final close by December,” said one of the two people.

Founded in 2009 by Ramnath, former managing director and CEO of ICICI Venture, the private equity arm of the country’s biggest private lender, ICICI Bank, Multiples manages close to $1billion assets, its website showed. It counts Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and other North American pension money managers and university endowments as its largest limited partners or investors.

These investors have already committed to the fresh fundraising. Some of the investments by Multiples include Arvind, Cholamandalam Investment & Finance, Indian Energy Exchange and RBL. Last January, the firm sold its 14% stake in India’s largest movie hall chain PVR to rival private equity fund Warburg Pincus for Rs 820 crore, making a return on more than three times on its four-year-old investment, in constant currency terms.

India-focused funds together raised about $3.1 billion in 2017, according to Preqin data. This is more than double the money raised by 18 asset managers in 2016. Last year, former Temasek India head Manish Kejriwal’s Kedaara Capital raised about $750 million for its second fund, while IDFC Alternatives raised $350 million.

PE fundraising slowed soon after the Lehman crisis with asset managers struggling to get out of their investments as valuations were rearranged, said the head of a large US fund in India. “The Moody’s upgrade and related strength seen in the economy and continued strong sentiment are expected to keep the India story intact,” he added.

Source:Economic Times


PE investments jump 55% to all-time high of $24 bn across 591 deals in 2017

Flipkart received India’s largest ever PE investment of $2.5 billion in a single round from Softbank

Private equity firms invested $23.8 billion across 591 deals in 2017, making it the biggest year for PE investments in India, says a report.

According to deal tracker Venture Intelligence, the investment value is 39 per cent higher than the previous high of $17.1 billion (recorded in 2015) and 55 per cent higher than $15.4 billion invested during 2016. In terms of number of deals the year 2017 saw 21 per cent less activity as compared to 2016 (731 deals), indicating large number of big-ticket transactions.

“The year witnessed 31 investment deals with size greater than USD 200 million, aggregating to $15.4 billion or 65 per cent of the total investments,” the report said. These figures include venture capital investments, but exclude PE investments in real estate.

In terms of industries, IT/ ITeS companies accounted for 45 per cent of the value pie attracting $10.7 billion worth investments across 325 transactions.

Flipkart received India’s largest ever PE investment of $2.5 billion in a single round from Softbank and another $1.4 billion from strategic investors Tencent, eBay and Microsoft. Softbank also invested $1.4 billion in mobile wallet and payments firm One97 Communications, which owns the Paytm brand. BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance) companies continued to enjoy the second spot attracting $4.40 billion across 61 transactions.

The sector was led by Bain Capital’s $1.04 billion investment in Axis Bank — the largest ever single investment in the sector — and Warburg Pincus’ $384 million pre-IPO investment in ICICI Lombard General Insurance.

On the back of its two mega bets (Flipkart and Paytm), Softbank emerged as the largest investor during the year with investments totaling over $4 billion (including a $250 million investment in Oyo Rooms).

Other top investors include Canadian pension fund CPPIB with $2 billion investments across five companies; while Warburg Pincus invested $1.6 billion across nine companies, and KKR invested about $680 million.

China’s Tencent emerged as a significant strategic investor in the Indian Internet and mobile sector with investment of $1.1 billion across home grown leaders like Flipkart, Ola, Byjus Classes and Practo.


Source: Business Standard

PE/VC investments hit 10-year high at $3.1 bn in May

PE, Venture Capital flows up 155% in May to $ 3 billion; SoftBank – Paytm deal tops

Private equity and venture capital (PE/VC) investments have recorded the highest monthly investments in the past 10 years at $3.1 billion in May 2017. For the third consecutive month in a year, the investment flow crossed the $2-billion mark.


The financial services sector topped the table on account of the $1.4-billion investment by Softbank in Paytm. This deal accounted 46 per cent of aggregate deal value for the month.


According to Ernst & Young (EY) data, the month recorded a 264 per cent increase in terms of value and 23 per cent in volume over May 2016. PE/VCs have invested $3,064 million across 55 deal in May this year as against $843 million across 45 deals in May 2016.


There were five deals of more than $100 million aggregating to $2.3 billion, accounting for 75 per cent of the aggregate deal value in May 2017.


Another important deal during the month was the $500-million investment by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) in Indospace (a real estate platform for industrial and logistics parks) for a majority stake, thus taking the investments by Canadian pension funds in 2017 close to $2 billion.


Mayank Rastogi, partner and leader for PE, EY said that Indian PE/VC market has significantly matured over time. Five to seven years ago, the classic growth capital was the only meaningful capital pool available with limitations such as investment horizon and return expectations, and could not have suited some specific situations.


There are a variety of capital pools available ranging from angel/VC to buyout funds, family offices, pensions and sovereigns, corporate funds, debt funds, sector-focused funds providing solutions that address specific needs. This is one of the key drivers for continuing buoyancy in the PE/VC investments in India despite slow growth capital investing.


Financial services ($1.6 billion across 11 deals) emerged as the most active sector on account of the Paytm-Softbank deal, the largest deal in the financial services sector till date. The real estate sector bagged four deals worth $709 million, followed by e-commerce sector’s six deals worth $211 million in terms of activity.


May 2017 recorded $1 billion in exits and was the second consecutive month with more than $1 billion in exits.


The strong buyout trend established over the past two years continued into 2017 with $2 billion invested across 18 deals till date.


Between January and May, there was a significant increase of over 60 per cent compared to 2016 and over 100 per cent compared to 2015, both, in terms of value and volume.


Debt deals recorded the biggest monthly volume since 2014 with $377 million recorded across 12 deals.


Given the buoyancy in the public markets, open market deals emerged as the preferred mode of exit, accounting for 36 per cent of exits by value and 50 per cent by volume, similar to the trend seen in the previous month.


Till date, open market exits have accounted for 49 per cent of the total value of exits in 2017 compared to 25 per cent for the whole of 2016. May 2017 recorded $90 million in fund raise, a decline of 82 per cent and 76 per cent as compared to May 2016 and April 2017 respectively. The plans for fund raise announced during the month stood at $908 million.
There was one PE-backed initial public offering (IPO) in May 2017 (S  Chand, a publishing company, primarily in the education space), which saw Everstone exiting a 13.9 per cent stake for $48 million. Till May 2017, PE-backed IPO tally stands at four compared to eight during the same period in 2016.


Financial services emerged as the leading sector with exits worth $466 million across six deals followed by the healthcare sector with exits worth $260 million across three deals.



UrbanClap receives Rs 20 Crore as NCD from Trifecta Capital

Home service startup UrbanClap has raised Rs.20 Crore of debt funding from California-Based Trifecta Capital through Non-Convertible Debentures.

A Non – Convertible debenture or NCD do not have the option of conversion into shares and on maturity, the principal amount along with accumulated interest is paid to the holder of the instrument. There are two types of NCDs-secured and unsecured.

Previously, UrbanClap raised an undisclosed amount funding from Ratan TATA in December 2015. The total equity funding from UrbanClap is about $36.6 Millions. The startup investors base include SAIF Capitals, Rohit Bhansal, Accel Partners, Bessemer Venture Capital and others.

The startup has also acquired similar startups like GoodServices and Mumbai-Based HandyHome.

The Delhi-Based startup was founded in October 2014 by Varun Khaitan, Raghav Chandra and Abhiraj Bhal. UrbanClap is the simplest way to hire trusted services. The startup helps their customers to find the right service professionals for activities important house works. Their vision is to use technology and smart processes to structure the highly unorganised services market in India and emerging markets.

Trifecta Capital is an early stage technology fund that invests in the best start-ups. Current portfolio companies include Equipment Share, Second Spectrum, Moltin and others. Trifecta Capital is a top quartile Silicon Valley-based seed fund. The venture capitalist is industry agnostic and look to support companies starting at seed stage but continue our support until IPO.

Commenting on the funding Rahul Khanna, managing partner at Trifecta Capital, said: “We are very focused on identifying category leaders. The venture debt firm has so far committed Rs 300 crore to 21 startups in the last 18 months through its Trifecta Venture Debt Fund I, the target corpus for which is Rs 500 crore.”

The venture debt firm has invested in several startups such as BigBasket, Rivigo and Urban Ladder.


Smaller VC firms ride on SIDBI and local investors

In the past six months, several venture capital (VCs) funds have raised money or are in the process of raising money. These include funds from IDG Ventures, DSG Consumer Partners, Orios Venture Partners, Kae Capital, Blume Ventures, Saama Capital, Fireside Ventures, Stellaris Venture Partners, Endiya Partners and Pravega Ventures.


What’s common between them is Sidbi, the lending institution managing several start-up funds, including the government’s, which plays an anchor investor to many of these funds with a 15-20 per cent stake. This is helping these funds raise money from other domestic investors — family offices and high networth individuals (HNIs).


‘‘Fundraising is not easy, especially for smaller VC firms. They don’t get large institutional investors; they get family offices and HNIs,” says a VC. Having an institution like Sidbi comforts other local investors.


‘‘Sidbi does extensive amount of due-diligence, reporting, appoints board members. They have a proper investment committee. So, you have comfort that there’s institutional due-diligence on the fund,” says Rehan Yar Khan, managing partner, Orios Venture Partners.


In February, Sidbi said its fund of funds operations has sanctioned Rs 1,112 crore to 30 funds in FY17, double of Rs 607 crore for 16 funds it did in FY16. Sidbi manages many fund of funds, including the government’s Rs 10,000-crore fund of funds for start-ups.


The funds, which have received Sidbi’s commitment under this programme, are Orios Venture Partners Fund II (Rs 50 crore), Kae Capital (Rs 45 crore), and two little known funds, Saha Trust (Rs 10 crore) and Kitven Fund III (Rs 5 crore), Sidbi disclosed in response to an RTI query from Business Standard. There are others like Blume Ventures, IDG Ventures, India Quotient, which have received Sidbi’s funding.


Interestingly, several funds — maiden funds and second funds — have hit the market in the past one year, all targeting domestic investors. Yet, all of them are able to raise money and announced their first or final close, which shows the increasing depth of domestic investors.


These include professionals in large firms, like Infosys founders, who have made money through ESOPs, family offices of traditional business families and others which are starting to get organised.


Many wealth management and advisory firms have come up, who are able to reach these family offices in a more effective way.  But are we seeing too many funds raising too much capital?


‘‘There’s a big need for early stage capital. In the US, the size of the VC market is $25-26 billion and the seed capital of $22 billion. As opposed to that, we are at a pittance. The game has not even started here,” says another VC. Besides, bigger VC firms like Accel, Sequoia also do seed-stage deals, but mostly do VC.