Italy-based CRIF SPA, an existing investor in High Mark Credit Information Services Pvt Ltd (High Mark), has invested an undisclosed amount to acquire majority stake in the credit information company, as per a release.
This follows relaxation in foreign investment norms for credit information companies last year. Reserve Bank of India had allowed foreign credit information companies to hold up to 74-per cent stake in the Indian credit bureaus last July.
As part of the deal, High Mark's existing investor Punjab National Bank, a private sector bank, has divested its 41 per cent stake in the company for Rs 4.15 crore (around $0.7 million). CRIF did not provide information for the remaining stake sellers.
CRIF's other existing promoters include leading financial institutions such as State Bank of India, SIDBI, Edelweiss, Shriram City Union Finance and Alpha, which is a consortium of microfinance institutions.
Larry Howell, currently the chairman of CRIF, will become the chairman of the newly constituted board while Kalpana Pandey, CEO of High Mark, will continue to be chief executive and managing director.
"We are excited about the new opportunity for CRIF in India, considering the high growth potential and the strategic importance of the country’s credit market. Leveraging High Mark’s experience and CRIF’s proven track record in the development of credit information systems worldwide, the credit bureau will play an important role in the promotion of a more mature credit culture in the Indian economic system and sustain the financial needs of businesses and consumers,” said Larry Howell, chairman, CRIF International.
Howell was also instrumental in setting up India’s first and leading credit bureau (CIBIL) in his previous job.
Founded in 2007, Mumbai-based High Mark has been providing bureau credit services for microfinance institutions (MFIs) in India since March 2011 and claims to operate the world’s largest microfinance database. The firm caters to all borrower segments – microfinance, retail consumers, as well as MSME and corporate borrowers.
Established in 1988 in Bologna (Italy), CRIF specialises in the development and management of credit reporting, business information and decision support systems. The firm has an international presence, operating over four continents (Europe, America, Africa and Asia).
SBI Capital Markets Ltd acted as financial advisor to High Mark in this transaction.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)