On April 13, 2017, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (‘MCA’) notified Section 234 (merger or amalgamation of a company with a foreign company) of the Companies Act, 2013 (‘Companies Act’), paving the way for cross-border mergers and amalgamations. Simultaneously, the MCA notified an amendment to the Companies (Compromises, Arrangements and Amalgamations) Amendment Rules, 2016 (‘Merger Rules’) by inserting a new Rule 25A, which prescribes the rules governing (i) inbound mergers by foreign companies with Indian companies, and (ii) outbound mergers by Indian companies with foreign companies incorporated in certain ‘notified jurisdictions’.
Section 234 of the Companies Act inter alia provides that, with the prior approval of the Reserve Bank of India (‘RBI’), a foreign company may merge into an Indian company and vice versa and that the terms and conditions of the scheme of merger may provide, among other things, for payment of consideration to the shareholders of the merging company in cash, or in depository receipts, or partly in cash and partly in depository receipts. The amendment to the Merger Rules further prescribes that such cross-border mergers and amalgamations must adhere to the requirements under the Companies Act and that the valuation (in case of an outbound merger) be conducted by valuers who are members of a recognised professional body in the country of the transferee company and as per internationally accepted accounting standards and valuation.
While the MCA has now permitted cross-border mergers, there are certain aspects that would require evaluation for successful implementation of cross-border mergers, including feasibility of tax neutrality in all the relevant countries and evaluation of impact under other tax provisions such as general anti-avoidance rules etc.