Stocks

Shriram Capital halts three-way merger after RBI request

Bloomberg Mumbai | Updated on January 23, 2020

The unlisted Shriram Capital was planning to combine with its publicly traded units Shriram Transport Finance Co and Shriram City Union Finance Ltd

Shriram Capital Ltd has held off a plan to merge with its shadow lending arms after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) requested the group to cut its stake in its insurance business, according to people familiar with the matter.

The unlisted Shriram Capital, which counts billionaire Ajay Piramal and private equity firm TPG Capital as investors, was planning to combine with its publicly traded units Shriram Transport Finance Co and Shriram City Union Finance Ltd. The proposal would have effectively turned the merged entity into a shadow lender along with a 77 per cent stake in life and general ventures.

The RBI was concerned because insurance business is not typically the remit of a non-bank financier, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions were private. The banking regulator has recommended non-bank financiers including Shriram to lower their holdings in insurance business to 50 per cent or below, the people said.

The RBI’s direction is part of heightened scrutiny over the countrys troubled shadow lending sector after a major infrastructure financier defaulted on series of debt repayments, leading to severe cash crunch and sharp jump in bad loans.

Shriram Capital is considering to review the merger plan and could still revive the proposal, sources said.

A deal would have given TPG and Piramal an opportunity to exit from Shriram Capital. Piramal Enterprises Ltd, which bought TPG’s stake in Shriram’s transport finance unit in 2013, tried and failed to combine the Chennai-based group with IDFC Ltd more than two years ago.

Shares of Shriram Transport, a loan provider for new and pre-owned trucks, rose as much as 1 per cent in early trading in Mumbai on Thursday. Shriram City Union, which funds purchases of consumer goods and motorcycles, climbed 1.1 per cent as of 9:47 a.m. local time.

Published on January 23, 2020

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