SKS Trust stated on Wednesday that it had divested a 7.59 per cent stake in SKS Microfinance, in a block deal. The price was Rs 225-230 a share. It has an additional 4.88 per cent holding in SKS Microfinance.
"We believe it's a good time to rationalise and diversify our portfolio, and make investments in and incubate exciting new opportunities which further financial inclusion and are consistent with the trust's objectives," it said.
SKS Trust had earlier decided to withdraw from a bitter battle for a greater say in SKS Microfinance. It has charted a new course and finalised a deal to buy a 70 per cent stake in Outreach Financial Services India, a start-up that is adopting a model of business correspondents partnering with banks to build, manage and service self-help groups on behalf of leading Indian lenders. The remaining equity will be held by OFS founder Surya Kumar, beside several employees and a few US-based investors such as Sarath Sura, co-founder of information technology company Sierra Atlantic. OFS is promoted by the former employees of SKS Trust and SKS Microfinance.
The move marks SKS Trust’s second foray in the financial inclusion space after its 2003 investment in SKS Micro, from which it is clearly exiting.
A little over a year before, Vikram Akula had tried to return to SKS Microfinance, which he had founded and run, and from where he had quit following serious differences with the present management. His comeback was supported by SKS Trust, which raised its stake in the micro financier to 12.5 per cent and threatened to move court on its request for board representation being rejected. Now, however, the trust has decided to refocus, move away from that battle and open a new chapter in the same business.
Declaring SKS Trust no longer wanted to fight for SKS Microfinance, its chairman, Biksham Gujja, had said: “We asked to be removed as promoter because we had had no ability to exercise any control over SKS Microfinance. In the complete absence of influence over company affairs, much less in decision-making, we asked to be removed as promoter.” He added this would help the trust focus on its core activity of furthering financial inclusion.