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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blackstone invest Rs 150 crore in FINO for a significant minority stake

The Blackstone Group has acquired a significant minority stake investing Rs 150 crore (approximately $33 million) in FINO, a pioneer in providing integrated technology solutions and physical network to enable financial inclusion in India. A channel with enabling technology platform, FINO provides for an end–to-end sourcing and servicing of micro customers in rural India on scale across a range of basic financial products and services. Ernst & Young (E&Y) advised FINO for this fund raising.

Commenting on the development, Akhil Gupta, chairman and managing director, Blackstone Advisors India Pvt Ltd, said that India has a significantly high number of financially excluded households – more than 100 Million, with an exclusion rate of over 50%. "The exclusion is much more prevalent in the rural areas. For sustainable and inclusive growth, India needs to extend basic utilities like financial services to the excluded population. As a dominant market leader, FINO is uniquely positioned to capitalise on this opportunity. While growing at almost 100% CAGR in the last few years, FINO has demonstrated conviction and commitment to changing India’s rural banking landscape.”

FINO works with most of the leading banks in the country across a comprehensive product suite - saving bank accounts, recurring deposits, loan products, remittances, insurance products, government subsidies disbursement, among others. The company has enrolled more than 35 million customers and plans to double its customer base in the next couple of years.

Manish Khera, chief executive officer, FINO Ltd, said, “The Company has done well and the outlook is even stronger with government focus of using Business Correspondent channel for cash subsidies and RBI’s drive to achieve total financial inclusion. FINO is a pioneer in the financial inclusion space and we plan to extensively leverage Blackstone’s global expertise of scaling up and transforming businesses.

"The money being raised will primarily be utilised towards funding overall growth of the company and to meet long-term capital requirements” added Rishi Gupta, chief financial officer, FINO.

Headquartered in Mumbai, FINO employs over 2,500 employees and 20,000 business correspondent agents spread across 239 offices. With over 35 million customer base across 300 districts across 24 states, FINO delivers financial products and services including banking, insurance & remittances in the first and last mile. FINO solutions are anchored around using biometric smart card, hand-held devices and Micro Deposit Machines to perform field operations and biometric authentication.

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