In a bid to strengthen the retail loans portfolio, the private lender Bandhan Bank is focusing on gold loans along with affordable housing segment, a top official said on Thursday. “We have started gold loan facilities for our customers five months ago. Going forward more urban branches will offer this product,” bank’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Chandra Shekhar Ghosh said. “We are seeing good response in gold loans. The bank would like to grow this business in certain pockets of urban areas,” Ghosh said.
He said currently, the lender was “providing gold loans facilities from its 25 branches” and would “scale it up”. It would charge around 16 per cent interest rate on gold loans but the rate would vary according to purity of gold. Presently, micro-lending constitutes around 90 per cent of the bank’s total loan portfolio. The lender, however, was looking for a change in the business mix in the next three to five years. “We expect in the next 3-5 years non-micro loans will be around 25 per cent of our total loan book,” Ghosh said, adding that “another focus area is affordable housing segment.” Meanwhile, the private lender has started the process of identifying the investment bankers in order to initiate the listing in the stock exchanges.
According to Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) guidelines for the universal bank licence, the lender was required to get its shares listed on the stock exchanges within three years of commencement. The erstwhile micro-finance firm had received in-principle approval from the apex bank in April 2014 and the final nod came in June 2015. The city headquartered bank had started operations on August 23, 2015. “As per RBI requirement, we have to list on the stock exchanges. We have started the process of identifying investment bankers,” he said while celebrating the completion of bank’s two years’ operations on Thursday.
He said the process is “long” and timing of its launch of Initial Public Offering (IPO) would depend on “market conditions”. “So, it is difficult to estimate exactly when the IPO would happen or how much fund will be raised,” Ghosh said. According to him, the bank, going forward, would also be focusing on increasing its advances to the MSME and also pointed out that there was a scope for the bank to expand its reach to the unbanked region. The lender was in discussion with insurance companies and mutual funds to offer financial products through its network of branches and outlets, he said. The lender currently has a network of around 840 branches and 383 ATMs serving a customer base of 11 million.