NBFCs relying more on bank loans: RBI

NBFCs relying more on bank loans: RBI

Tech News

Mumbai: Domestic non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), especially those in the upper-layer category, are increasingly relying on bank borrowings as their primary source of funding, according to an analysis in Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s September bulletin.

RBI regulations classify the NBFCs into four layers based on the size, activity and perceived risks. The upper layer comprises prominent names like Tata Sons, LIC Housing Finance and Shriram Finance, according to a recent RBI notification.

NBFCs primarily finance their operations through a mix of market borrowing and bank loans, constituting around 75% of total borrowings. According to the analysis, the substantial reliance on banks makes them the largest net borrowers, thus intricately linking them to the broader financial system.

The article pertains to the sector’s performance during the 2022-23 period, up to Q3.

Although there were 9,443 RBI-registered NBFCs as of 31 March, the analysis is based on a sample of 205 firms that regularly submitted returns for all quarters from December 2020 to December 2022. “During the assessment period, NBFCs’ reliance on banks increased steadily due to (the) low interest environment and lag monetary policy transmission,” the article said.

The banks’ share in aggregate NBFC borrowings rose to 35.1% last December, against 29.7% in December 2020, the data cited showed.

While the article was written by RBI officials, it had the usual disclaimer that the views expressed are those of authors and do not reflect the views of the organization. “A deeper analysis highlights the banks’ preference in lending to NBFCs in the upper layer.”

Direct bank borrowings by the upper-layer NBFCs grew steadily in recent quarters, accounting for nearly half of the total borrowings at the end of December 2022. Those in the middle layer relied more on debentures, although their bank borrowings also grew in recent times. Besides, upper-layer NBFCs seem to be more successful in raising short-term debt through commercial papers (CP), it said.

According to the analysis, banks are also key subscribers of the debenture and commercial paper issuances by NBFCs. Therefore, the exposure to the NBFC sector is higher than the quantum indicated by direct lending, it said. “Banks’ exposure to NBFC-UL (upper layer) in particular has been steadily rising, primarily due to a steep growth in their direct lending to these NBFCs in 2022-23 (up to December 2022). Bank subscription to debenture and CP issuances of NBFC-UL are also growing at a robust pace, and reflect banks’ preference for instruments of bigger NBFCs, which in general have strong parentage and are under enhanced regulation.”

The debenture issuances of NBFCs are also subscribed by other market participants such as mutual funds, insurers, retail investors and pension funds. “Going forward, NBFCs need to diversify their funding sources, to reduce excessive reliance on bank borrowings,” the article said.

“They need to develop strong governance and risk management standards and be more vigilant about cybercrimes, as the growing digital lending space offers huge opportunities, but also presents novel challenges,” it added.

A scale-based analysis of the credit allocation by the authors of the article found NBFCs in the upper layer provide a major chunk of their loans to retail borrowers, while those in the middle layer provided a large chunk to the industry. Government NBFCs that fall in the middle layer are large providers of credit to the infrastructure segment of industries, it said.

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Updated: 19 Sep 2023, 12:56 AM IST

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