Bandhan Bank to Diversify into Newer Business

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Bandhan Bank said the lender is “open to explore inorganic opportunities” and “will evaluate” getting into new businesses such as insurance and mutual fund going forward under its holding company, which will help to dilute shareholding of the Non Operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC) into the bank.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently withdrew general permission to open bank’s new branches and froze the remuneration of the lender’s MD and CEO Chandra Shekhar Ghosh till further notice as the bank was not able to bring down the shareholding of NOFHC, Bandhan Financial Holdings Limited (BFHL), to 40 per cent, as required under the licensing condition.

According to RBI‘s new banking licensing norms, any bank offering ‘universal’ services will have to bring down the promoter holding to 40 per cent in three years from the date of commencement of business.

The bank had completed three years of operations this August. The promoter holding in the bank currently stands at around 82 per cent after a successful Initial Public Offer (IPO), launched in March this year.

“As you are aware that we have come out with an IPO in March of 2018, whereby all existing shareholders, including BFHL are under lock-in for a period of one year till March 2019 as per SEBI regulations. So, till the time we are in lock-in, there cannot be any secondary sale by the promoter,” the lender said in a regulatory filing on Monday, referring to a conference call held on Saturday.

“And post this lock-in the shares will be available to freely trade. NOFHC, which is the holding company of the bank, as per the licensing conditions, after the three years of starting of the business, can get into other financial services business other than banking like insurance and mutual fund. So that option is available to us now that three years is over, and we will evaluate getting into these new businesses going forward which will help us dilute our shareholding of NOFHC into the bank,” said lender’s CFO Sunil Samdani during the call.

Further, in line with its strategy to grow business, which is microfinance, MSME and affordable housing, the lender will continue to grow its business organically, he said.

“We are open, however, if it makes sense and is in line with our strategy of MSME, micro and affordable housing to explore inorganic opportunities as well. So, a combination of this will help us reduce our shareholding,” Samdani said.

He said if it has to do any para-banking activities it “has to be housed under the NOFHC and not under the bank”.

As of June 2018 we already have 937 branches and the lender was pursuing a strategy to take this to 1,000.

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