Government’s decision to introduce composite caps on foreign investment has led to confusion among bankers who say overseas portfolio investments can now go up to 74 per cent as against the current ceiling of 49 per cent. Commerce and Industry Ministry officials insist however that though all foreign investments like FIIs and FDI are being clubbed for limiting the sectoral cap, its applicability on FII investment in banking would be subject to sectoral caps.

While total foreign investment allowed in banking sector is up to 74 per cent, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) are limited to take only 49 per cent.

Officials said this distinction will continue despite the introduction of sectoral composite caps.

FII investment cannot be allowed beyond the current limit of 49 per cent for the fear of run on the bank in case foreign portfolio investors suddenly pull out, the official said, adding that it would also apply to the sensitive defence sector. While FDI up to 49 per cent is allowed in defence, the FII investment can be only up to 24 per cent.

Introduction of the composite caps on foreign investment, which were approved by the Cabinet, mean the government would not distinguish between various forms of foreign investments up to the sectoral caps.

“For sectors such as banking, where currently portfolio investment was restricted up to 49 per cent, the amendment seems to suggest that the said limit could now be raised up to the overall limit of 74 per cent subject to government approval route for the excess,” BMR Advisors said in a statement.

It further said that one would have to wait for the DIPP rules language on certain aspects.