Equity infusion into the bank will never be a constraint come what may, says Ashneer Grover.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on June 18 granted ‘in-principle approval to Centrum Financial Services Limited and BharatPe to set up a small finance bank (SFB), paving the way for the entity to take over the crisis-ridden Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank (PMC Bank).
With this, the path for resolution of the PMC Bank is clear and that brings good news for PMC Bank depositors.
In a telephonic interaction with Moneycontrol from the United Kingdom, Ashneer Grover, co-founder and chief executive officer of BharatPe, talks about the plans going forward.
How will it change the landscape for the fin-tech ecosystem in India?
Along with Centrum Group we have created a consortium and we have been given an SFB licence. Technically this makes us the first fin-tech in India with an SFB licence of its own. It depends on how well we perform. How we are able to get good products in the market. If we do a good job, this will open up further licences for the fin-tech segment. This should open up the doors for lot more people.
How soon the new bank plans to pay back the depositors? As many as 84 percent of the depositors got their money back. How soon will the remaining get it?
The first agenda item for us is to get the bank up and running. We want the depositors to access the deposits. For that, we have agreed on a restructuring scheme with the Reserve Bank of India. The first part of that scheme involved us being converted into a small finance bank (SFB) which is what we got today. Now the second part is merging of the asset and liabilities of PMC Bank into the new SFB.
I am hopeful by the fourth quarter of this calendar year, we should have the bank up and running and everyone should be able to access the deposits and business as usual.
How do you plan to raise the fund? How much do you plan to infuse in the first phase? How much the new promoter is required to bring in the initial stage?
Our commitment to the RBI has new equity infusion into the bank … of around $250-300 million over the next two years. Half of it would come from Centrum and half from BharatPe. I can assure you we have enough and more capital to infuse into the bank. Equity infusion into the bank will never be a constraint come what may.
There are parallel cases going on with respect to management and top executives of PMC Bank. Investigation is still going on. How do you plan to revamp the management?
There will be a completely new management. You have to understand that Centrum is led by Jaspal Bindra who used to be the CEO of Standard Chartered Asia and as part of that he was also heading Standard Chartered in India. He is a very seasoned hand at running a bank and building a bank. We will have great management coming up and the lead of that will be taken by Jaspal and his team. I am very confident that we will have one of the best teams running the bank.
Has the process started?
All that hard work will now begin.
What is the plan to regain the lost trust in PMC Bank? It is not easy to regain the confidence of customers of a bank. What is the plan of action?
The banking business is all about trust … But the fact that PMC would get merged into a new banking entity is a good step. It will instil the faith that we are the saviours. We are not the guys who did the wrong. In fact we have come to make sure that they got access to their money which was stuck for long. So how we go about things and how we educate them on how us taking over the bank has helped the bank come back on line and given their hard-earned money back to them is what is going to give the trust back. When you get people’s money back that creates more trust than anything you can do.
We get to learn that BharatPe is in advance talks to raise $250 million in a round which is to be led by Tiger Global. The valuation is expected to be $2.5 billion. I was given to understand that the round will get expedited after BharatPe gets this licence. Can you tell us what the status is?
Fund raise is just an essential part of the business which has to be done. As the chief executive and founder of BharatPe one of my core tasks is to ensure that my team has enough capital available at all points of time. All I can say at this point is that…you will get to know about the round when it happens.