Ujjivan Eyes Small Businesses Amid Retreat by Shadow Bankers
People hold Indian rupee banknotes for a photograph in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Ujjivan Eyes Small Businesses Amid Retreat by Shadow Bankers

(Bloomberg) -- Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Ltd., which surged 51% on its trading debut last month, is focusing on increased lending to small businesses to expand its footprint and boost profitability.

Shadow banks, strung by a liquidity crisis, aren’t in a position to lend to small shopkeepers, clinics, local government and salaried workers, and Ujjivan has identified seven such segments for lending where demand is high, Managing Director Nitin Chugh said in an interview in Bangalore. Ujjivan is also conducting a pilot on two-wheeler and three-wheeler financing, he added.

“We can be a large bank within small borrowers,” Chugh said. “This is where we want to dominate, this is where we want to work systematically.”

Many Indian lenders are focusing their efforts on the lucrative retail loans’ business. IDFC First Bank Ltd.’s Managing Director V. Vaidyanathan has said the bank is focusing on the retail segment for growth. HDFC Bank Ltd.’s Managing Director Aditya Puri is seen talking to small shopkeepers on social media video clips, indicating the importance of their business to India’s most valuable lender. Retail lender Bajaj Finance Ltd.’s share price has surged 60 fold in the last decade.

“The space is very large for everyone, we just need people to be taking a long-term view,” Chugh said.

Ujjivan needs to bring down its promoter holding to 40% to meet central bank norms. For that, the bank is considering a reverse merger with its holding company Ujjivan Financial Services Ltd., he said.

“Those discussions still have to happen,” Chugh said. “We have to make up our mind.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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