Monday, 17 January, 2022
HomeEconomyHDFC Bank sees signs of economy reviving in rural and semi-urban areas

HDFC Bank sees signs of economy reviving in rural and semi-urban areas

Loan outreach programmes in rural areas have given the sense that consumption in rural & semi-urban areas is turning more positive, HDFC Bank says.

Text Size:

Mumbai: HDFC Bank Ltd., India’s most valuable lender by market capitalization, sees tentative signs of a revival in rural areas at a time when the wider economy is sputtering.

“The recent loan outreach programs underway in rural areas have given us the sense that the consumption in rural and semi-urban areas is turning more positive,” HDFC Bank Executive Director Kaizad Bharucha said in an interview last week. As of end-September, 52% of the bank’s outlets were in rural and semi-urban India, a part of the economy that accounts for at least half of the national output.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has unveiled several steps to boost the economy, which is growing at its weakest pace in more than six years, including a surprise $20 billion corporate tax cut. The Reserve Bank of India is expected to cut interest rates again this week, after Friday’s report that gross domestic product growth slowed to 4.5% in the September quarter.

For HDFC Bank, the weaker economy had led to a slowdown in loan growth, which eased to 15% in the September quarter from 23% a year earlier. But it remained healthy compared with the overall banking system which saw credit growth slowing to a two-year low just above 8%.

“As a bank we are well positioned to offset a slowdown in either the consumption or investment side as we are present across the spectrum,” Bharucha said. “The demand for credit is not going away. It may just be subdued for a period of time,” he added.

He’s also cautiously optimistic about the outlook for corporate investment, based on the bank’s soundings with Indian executives.

Muted loan growth has hardly dented the upward march in HDFC Bank’s shares, which are about 19% higher so far this year. Now valued at about $96 billion, the company trades around 26 times projected 12 month earnings. That’s almost three times more expensive than the Bloomberg World Banks Index and is the biggest valuation premium on record.

Meanwhile, non-bank lenders from Dewan Housing Finance Corp Ltd. to Reliance Capital Ltd. have been reeling under a 17-month credit crisis after Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. defaulted on its debt last year. In a further blow to confidence, the Securities and Exchange Board of India placed curbs on operations of Karvy Stock Broking Ltd. after finding evidence it misused client funds.

But Bharucha doesn’t see a wider industry problem.

“There is enough control over stockbrokers and depositories and a default in the segment will not have a systemic impact,” he said. The central bank “has ensured that there is adequate liquidity in the system and availability of credit is not a problem.” – Bloomberg

Also read: India’s credit card boom has run into a problem—Mukesh Ambani


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular