Prem Watsa-Backed Catholic Syrian Bank Files Draft Prospectus For IPO
Prem Watsa, chief executive officer of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., speaks at a news conference following the company’s annual meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photographer: Norm Betts/Bloomberg)

Prem Watsa-Backed Catholic Syrian Bank Files Draft Prospectus For IPO

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Catholic Syrian Bank Ltd. has filed its draft red herring prospectus with the market regulator for its initial public offering.

The private lender, one of India’s oldest, is looking to raise capital through a fresh issue of Rs 30 crore worth of equity shares apart from an offer-for-sale of 1.98 crore shares by existing shareholders, according to the prospectus.

Axis Capital Ltd. and IIFL Securtities Ltd. are the lead managers to the issue.

The 98-year-old bank, controlled by Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa, has a customer base of around 1.3 million and 414 branches, mainly in south India. It has 277 ATMs spread across 16 states and four union territories, as of March 31.

The bank posted a loss of Rs 197.4 crore in financial year 2018-19 compared to Rs 97.44-crore loss in FY18. It had Rs 15,214 crore worth of deposits while loans and advances stood at Rs 10,615 crore as of March 31, 2019.

The bank, according to its statement, is focused on implementing “strategic changes” in its business model to become a “full-service new-age private sector bank”.

“We are re-aligning our organisational setup for efficiently driving our operations and business strategy, wherein branches will be responsible only for deposits, cross-selling, and customer servicing, and all loan products will be driven by dedicated teams, with each business team operating as a profit centre,” the statement said.

The bank is in the process of re-branding itself as CSB Bank Ltd., it said.

Last year, Watsa’s Fairfax India Holdings Corporation acquired a 51 percent stake in the private bank for around Rs 440 crore, following which the Reserve Bank of India instructed it to list its shares by Sept. 30, 2019.

This was the first time the central bank had approved of an equity investment into a domestic private sector bank by a foreign firm.

It is not the first time that Catholic Syrian Bank has sought to list shares on the stock exchanges. In 2015, it filed a DRHP with the markets regulator to raise Rs 400 crore. The opportunity, however, was not taken up.

CSB Bank’s shares will be listed on both the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange. The date of listing is not known yet.

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