Equitas considering two routes to get its SFB listed by March 2020

P N Vasudevan, MD and CEO of Equitas Small Finance Bank
Equitas Holdings, the promoter of Equitas Small Finance Bank (ESFB), is expecting the listing of the Bank by March 2020, either through the Scheme of Arrangement it is pursuing with market regulator Sebi, or through an Initial Public Offering (IPO). The RBI last week refused to extend the listing deadline for ESFB and barred it from opening new branches till further orders.

The company said the RBI's directive to bar ESFB from opening new branches will not have implications in the short term. P N Vasudevan, MD and CEO of Equitas Small Finance Bank, told analysts in an interaction today that the Scheme of Arrangement is for the benefit of the public shareholders of the holding company and it will enable the Bank to comply with RBI guidelines. The company awaits Sebi's nod for the Scheme.

The Boards of EHL and ESFB had approved the Scheme of Arrangement under which ESFB would capitalise its free reserves and issue shares of the Bank to the shareholders of EHL without cash consideration, in proportion to their holding in EHL.

The company is expecting Sebi's response soon, following which it needs to get approval from National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), RBI, shareholders and creditors. If the market regulator does not approve the Scheme, the company would list the bank through an IPO. In any case, the company will be listed by March 2020, Vasudevan told analysts.

The bank needs to write to RBI for a reverse merger at the end of five years, which is by September 2021, and the apex bank will take a decision looking at the regulatory comfort at that point in time.

ESFB currently has over 600 asset branches and has set up around 400 liability branches. This would give it room to sustain growth over the next two years. The Bank has to grow per-branch productivity. It is expecting that there would not be any material impact on growth for a couple of years due to this.

The RBI rules mandate that an SFB must be listed within three years of reaching Rs 500-crore net worth.

Further restrictions may be imposed if the bank fails to make “satisfactory progress towards listing of its share”, said the RBI.

The ESFB began operations on September 5, 2016.

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