Money & Banking

A sizzling rally lures HDFC Bank to do more equity deals

Bloomberg May 31 | Updated on May 31, 2021

Will be hard for the bank to grab a bigger market share as it grapples with uncertainty over its asset quality

A hot equity market in India is prompting HDFC Bank Ltd. to try to muscle in on the action as companies raise record levels of funding.

The government has flooded the market with money in response to one of the world’s worst outbreaks of coronavirus, pushing stocks to dizzying levels and helping companies to boost capital buffers. Despite being India’s most valuable lender, HDFC Bank so far hasn’t been able to exploit its strong balance sheet to make inroads into this competitive market.

“We will do whatever it takes to reach there – hire more people, grow more people from inside and even enter into partnerships,” Rakesh Singh, group head of investment banking, private banking, marketing and products at HDFC Bank, said in an interview. “As we build our distribution network a larger share of the equity capital market deals will come our way.”

Also read: Indian shares open lower ahead of GDP data

It may be easier said than done for a relatively late starter like HDFC Bank to grab a bigger share of the market as it grapples with uncertainty over its asset quality. The country’s second-largest lender will have to fight it out with veteran local players including ICICI Bank Ltd., Axis Bank Ltd. and State Bank of India.

HDFC Bank has lagged in recent years as it focused on its fast-growing core business of lending and deposits rather than investment banking. The Mumbai-based company ranked number 16 for overall equity deals business last year, and number 29 in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Also read: Markets may open flat as bulls likely to take a breather

“It’s a cut-throat market where big corporates prefer to work with dominant and well-established bankers with existing relationships who can offer them the best pricing,” said Siddharth Purohit, an analyst at SMC Global Securities Ltd. “Unless HDFC Bank offers something really attractive it will not be easy for them to grow this business quickly and get the big-ticket deals.”

India’s stocks have extended their climb, reflecting investor optimism that the economy will rebound strongly from devastation caused by the coronavirus. The benchmark index was up 0.7 per cent on Monday, close to its record high in February.

Companies raised ₹789 billion ($10.9 billion) so far this year through the equity markets, a 9.3 per cent increase from last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s after an unprecedented ₹2.2 trillion of deals in 2020.

Published on May 31, 2021

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