Pedestrians walk past a branch of Punjab National Bank in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Carlyle Seeks to Double Holding in Indian Mortgage Lender PNB

(Bloomberg) -- Carlyle Group LP is seeking to double its holding in Indian mortgage lender PNB Housing Finance Ltd., people familiar with the matter said, reversing an earlier attempt to pare its stake in the company.

The U.S. private-equity firm is considering buying Punjab National Bank’s shares in PNB Housing, which would give it a controlling stake, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is not public. Carlyle and Punjab National Bank had earlier invited bids for their holdings in the mortgage financier, though the latter said in November that it would continue with the sale process independently.

Punjab National Bank’s 32.8 percent stake was valued at about 53 billion rupees ($745 million) as of close of trade on Monday.

Carlyle is considering expanding its 32.4 percent holding after valuations for the housing finance company turned attractive, according to the people familiar. PNB Housing was among non-bank lenders hurt after a series of money-market defaults rattled investor confidence in the sector and dried up access to funds. Discussions are at an early stage, and they may not result in a deal as others have also expressed interest in the stake, the people said.

Carlyle and Punjab National Bank started a process in July to sell their stakes in the financier. The plan was derailed after PNB Housing’s stock slid in September and October. Shares of the mortgage lender climbed as much as 2.1 percent on Tuesday, before trading 1.6 percent lower in Mumbai trading. They has dropped about 28 percent this year.

Tammy Li, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Carlyle, declined to comment, while a Punjab National Bank spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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