Private equity (PE) deals in the microfinance sector are on the rise, with the segment recording the highest equity inflow in the past five years.
So far this financial year, the sector has raised $276 million through PE deals. This excludes the $258-million equity commitment in Bandhan( $165 million from GIC and $93 million from IFC), which is set to become a bank soon.
In FY14, the segment had raised about $70 million through such deals. Some of the biggest PE commitments in the microfinance segment this financial year include those for equity investment of about $100 million in Ujjivan and $77 million in Janalakshmi Financial Services (the company, however, didn't confirm the amount). While CDC Group, the UK's development finance company PE firm(CX Partners) and Bajaj Group unit Newquest will invest about $50 million in Ujjivan, an equal amount will be deployed for buying shares from several existing investors.
Sources say about 10 microfinance institutions (MFIs) are expected to apply for small-bank licences, for which they have to increase cash reserves. According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) norms, the paid-up equity capital of small banks should be at least Rs 100 crore.