Infra projects: RBI eases refinancing norms for NBFCs

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To encourage infrastructure financing, RBI eased norms for NBFCs to refinance such projects and provide longer repayment tenures. “NBFCs may refinance any existing infrastructure and other project loans by way of take-out financing, without a pre-determined agreement with other lenders, and fix a longer repayment period, the same would not be considered as restructuring if… such loans should be ‘standard’ in the books of the existing lenders and should have not been restructured in the past,” RBI said in a notification. Another condition is that such loans should be substantially taken over from the existing financing lenders. Also, the repayment period should be fixed by taking into account the life cycle of the project and cash flows from the project. In cases where the aggregate exposure of all institutional lenders is minimum Rs 1,000 crore, the refinancing by NBFCs will not be considered as restructuring in the books of the existing as well as taking over lenders if the project has started commercial operation after achieving Date of Commencement of Commercial Operation (DCCO). Further, a lender who has extended only working capital finance for a “project may be treated as a ‘new lender’ for taking over part of the project term loan as required under the guidelines”. The provisions are already applicable for banks.