India's CreditAccess Grameen to raise $150 million via ECBs, says MD

By Bhakti Tambe

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's CreditAccess Grameen is planning to raise $150 million through external commercial borrowing (ECB) in the next six months, the microfinance lender's managing director and chief executive officer, Udaya Kumar, said on Wednesday.

The lender is in talks with foreign banks and development finance institutions but expects to raise the funds only in three to six months as hedging and foreign currency pricing are volatile currently, Kumar said.

The company has already raised around $200 million through ECBs this financial year, including through a $35 million ESG-linked loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corp in October.

Additionally, its public issue of non-convertible debentures (NCDs) worth up to 5 billion Indian rupees ($61.4 million) will launch on Nov. 14.

The lender now plans to tap external borrowings to diversify its fundraising and improve the asset-liability management, Kumar said.

Currently, 70% of CreditAccess Grameen's total borrowing is through bank loans and 30% via non-bank loans and other avenues such as domestic bonds and external commercial borrowings.

The aim is to increase the non-bank borrowing to 40% over the next three to four years, Kumar said.

The company has the approval to raise 15 billion rupees through the public issue of NCDs. Based on the response to the currently proposed issue, bond yields and demand from investors, the company will consider tapping the public issue market again.

In order to move towards secured lending, CreditAccess Grameen is also planning to launch more loan products and is already running pilots for gold loans, two-wheeler loans and mortgage loans in some of its branches.

The lender aims to build its non-microfinance book to 50-60 billion rupees in the next five to six years. Its loan book stood at 138 billion rupees at the end of September. ($1 = 81.4200 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Bhakti Tambe; Editing by Savio D'Souza)