Private equity firms at Svatantra Microfin's doorstep

Svatantra founder, chairperson and director Ananya Birla.
Svatantra founder, chairperson and director Ananya Birla.

Summary

  • The Ananya Birla-led firm, India’s second largest microlender, is set to raise 2,000 crore from private equity firms Advent International and Multiples Private Equity

Mumbai: Ananya Birla-led Svatantra Microfin Pvt. Ltd, India’s second largest microlender, is set to raise 2,000 crore from private equity firms Advent International and Multiples Private Equity, a person aware of the deal said.

The Mumbai-based microfinance institution (MFI)will use the funds to expand and consolidate its growth, the person added, requesting anonymity.

Queries sent to Svatantra, and Multiples remained unanswered, while Advent declined to comment on the development

The deal follows Svatantra’s acquisition of Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal’s Chaitanya Microfin Pvt. Ltd in October last year. Svatantra acquired the Bengaluru-based Chaitanya for 1,479 crore in a fully equity-funded deal, after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) denied a universal banking licence to the latter.

The Svatantra-Chaitanya deal gave the combined entity assets under management (AUM) of more than 12,874 crore as on 30 June 2023, according to a Crisil credit rating report, making it India’s second largest NBFC-MFI after Credit Access Grameen.

Svatantra typically gives out loans for agriculture and allied activities in 19 states across almost 336 districts.

Svatantra has been the primary area of focus for 29-year-old Ananya Birla, daughter of industrialist and Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, since it was incorporated in 2012.

In recent years, the Birla scion and her brother Aryaman Vikram Birla have been groomed for director roles in Birla group companies. In January 2023, the two were appointed as directors on the board of Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail. In February, they were also inducted on the board of Grasim Industries.

Svantantra reported a total income of 1,396 crore and profit after tax of 130 crore in FY23, per data from Crisil. In FY22, total income was 831 crore and profit, 47 crore.

“In line with revision in regulatory framework, the company has enhanced its risk-based pricing by increasing its yields by around 150 to 200 bps in fiscal 2023 (FY23). The benefit of these higher yields is expected flow-in towards bottom line with return on managed assets (RoMA) expected to improve to over 3% by the end of fiscal 2024 (FY24)," the Crisil report dated 5 October 2023 said. Bps is short for basis points; a basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

In March 2022, RBI removed the cap on pricing of small loans given by NBFC-MFIs, which brought them on par with other lenders and allowed them to charge risk premiums based on borrower profiles. This created a level playing field for the sector, Mint reported at the time.

“So far, the company has cumulatively received over 900 crore of capital from the shareholders. These infusions have been made through Svatantra Holdings... This has enabled a gradual build up in networth to 1,230 crore (including compulsorily convertible preference shares) as of 30 June 2023," the Crisil report added.

The Aditya Birla Group had committed a fund infusion of 100 crore in FY24, Crisil said.

Microfinance loans grew 22% during FY23 with the gross loan portfolio outstanding of 3.48 trillion as on 31 March 2023, a report by Microfinance Institutions Network said.

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