Will RBI say YES to Erwin Singh Braich, the man who just forced India to sit up and take notice?

Not much is known about Erwin Singh Braich who's supposed to be the knight in shining armour for YES bank.

In all of the recent history of deal making in India Inc, few names have had a higher intrigue factor than the one who the troubled Yes Bank just cited as one of its prospective saviours.

The Yes Bank board, on November 29, released names of likely investors amid frantic preparations to offload $2 billion worth of equities in a desperate bid to shore up capital. Among the list of fund houses and corporates, the name that stood out was that of Erwin Singh Braich of SPGP Holdings.

The Canadian billionaire expressed his intent to acquire bulk of the preferential allotment, investing around $1.2 billion in the bank.


The bank's exchange filing said: "Discussions with Investor ongoing and expected to be concluded shortly."

Not much is known about the man who is supposed to be the knight in shining armour for a bank struggling to stay afloat after its exposure to the shadow banking sector soured. This lack of info is exactly why Braich may have a hard time passing RBI's stringent fit-and-proper test.

The Reserve Bank of India's approval is needed for a stake acquisition of over 5 per cent in a bank. A non-financial entity can buy up to 10 per cent of bank and a financial entity can buy up to 15 per cent in a bank. However, the norms are subject to some flexibility on a case-to-case basis. The RBI had relaxed the norms in the case of sale of 51 per cent stake in Kerala-based private sector lender CSB Ltd to Canada's Fairfax Financial Holdings owned by Prem Watsa.
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Erwin Singh Braich's father Herman Singh Braich Sr. emigrated to Canada and at the age of 20. Erwin took over the family business, according to a website, https://erwinsinghbraich.com/, which apparently belongs to the Canadian billionaire.

Among some other things publicly available on him, here's one that reveals his brush with legal trouble. In 1999, Erwin was petitioned into bankruptcy, the website mentions.

"On October 1, 1999 Erwin was maliciously petitioned into involuntary bankruptcy for clandestine reasons by two individuals, one of which was his brother Bobby."

The website mentions: "Erwin's undischarged bankrupt status has now lasted approximately 20 years. Despite obvious legal hurdles, the stigma, collusion and conspiracy to financially obstruct and injure commercial and business activities by culpable parties, and other impediments, in the last twenty years (as an undischarged bankrupt), Erwin has built a remarkable global portfolio of assets utilizing Family Trusts."
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Will Erwin's status as an undischarged bankrupt put a spanner in Yes Bank's rescue plan? We'll know in a little while.
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