Friday, October 04, 2013

Private equity firm TPG eyeing minor stake in Manappuram Finance
Today Muthoot Finance Ltd was locked in the Upper Circuits at Rs.94.30
MUMBAI, 4 Oct, 2013: US-based private equity firm TPG is in talks with the promoter and other large shareholders of India's largest gold loan company, Manappuram FinanceBSE -0.84 %, for buying a minority stake, three people with direct knowledge of the talks said.

The promoter, VP Nandakumar, owns 31.55% in the company while private equity firms Barings Private Equity Partners India, AA Development and India Equity Partners together hold around 20%. 

The move signals revival of interest in the industry after regulatory meddling took the sheen off it last year. 

"TPG has made an offer for a minority stake, but with governance rights and board seat," one of the people said.

"TPG has made an offer for a minority stake, but with governance rights and board seat," one of the people quoted above said. "The stake sale could be a mix of buying some of the existing investors and a preferential share issue by the company, or through a direct preferential share issue to the PE fund."

Nandakumar, the managing director and chief executive of Manappuram Finance, had told ET last week that he had no plans to sell part of his stake. "I have no plans to sell. PE investors may be talking to each other." 

A clutch of PE companies had invested in the company between 2007 and 2010. The other early investors, Ashmore Group and Sequoia Capital, have since exited. 

Bankers say TPG's move is aimed at consolidating its investments to create a larger gold loan mortgager. TPG owns 20% stake in Shriram City Union, a non-banking finance company that earns 30% revenues from gold loans. 

"As TPG already has a stake in Shriram City Union Finance, having a stake in Manappuram will help consolidate two biggest players," said an investment banker with direct knowledge of the development. 

Gold loan companies had been growing at more than 40% a year until last fiscal. However, stricter regulations on lending imposed by the Reserve Bank of India put brakes on the growth. Manappuram disbursed Rs 20,516 crore of loans in 2012-13 against Rs 31,698 crore in the previous year. 

"TPG has offered to buy out the existing private equity investors and a slice from its promoter at a premium of around 5% to the current market price," the second person said. "However, the promoters are looking at a deal closer to the book value of the company. Depending on the offer, the promoters too might look at selling a minority stake." 

The Manappuram stock rose 4.91% to close at Rs 15.39 on the BSE on Thursday. 

TPG's managing partner and India head Puneet Bhatia did not respond to email queries or calls to his mobile phone. Sudhinder Khanna, chairman of India Equity Partners, denied any talks with TPG. 

Listed in 1995, Manappuram raised capital from PEs to fuel its growth. It raised $11.7 million from Sequoia Capital and Hudson Equity Holdings in 2007, and a year later $11.33 million from group of investors led by Ashmore Alchemy in 2008, according to data from Venture Intelligence. In a series of investments, Barings Private Equity Partners India invested $50 million in 2010. 

Analysts say the long-term outlook is robust for gold loan mortgagers. 

"With penetration of gold loans in India at 2% to the total quantity of gold held by individuals, the long-term outlook for the business remains robust," said Amar Ambani, research head at brokerage India Infoline. "The recent changes in regulations have been difficult, but have brought about a dynamic change in the companies and made them healthier, and hence, more attractive for foreign investors."

Courtesy: The Economic Times