By Jindal Haria

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has undertaken the following rating action on NeoGrowth Credit Private Limited’s (NeoGrowth) additional non-convertible debentures (NCDs):

Instrument Type

Date of Issuance

Coupon Rate

Maturity Date

Size of Issue (million)

Rating/Outlook

Rating Action

NCDs

-

-

-

INR575

IND BBB/Stable

Assigned

The rating reflects NeoGrowth’s ability to sustainably implement a merchant finance-centred business model while capitalising on the fast-growing digital payment ecosystem and promoters’ experience of over 20 years in payments industry. NeoGrowth benefits from an early-mover advantage in this segment, considering digital technology is already in place for credit monitoring and risk management. Moreover, the rating reflects the higher risk profile of its borrowers, unsecured nature of its loan products, untested borrower behaviour in stress and limited track record.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

Increasing Credit Costs, Though Manageable: NeoGrowth operates at the higher end of the yield curve, where annual interest rates on most loans are in the range of 25%-34% on reducing balance (FY17: INR5.9 billion loan assets under management). In the long run, NeoGrowth will have to continually add new borrowers to continue to operate at these interest rates (about 65% merchant retention rate). Although the transition to the goods and services tax over FY18 could raise credit costs, Ind-Ra expects the company’s credit costs to remain at 2%-3% in the medium term. Ind-Ra’s stress tests indicate profitability buffers would absorb 10%-15% merchant mortality in the discretionary segment (about 50% of the company’s portfolio) by about FY19. 

Diversification of Funding Sources Likely to Pose a Challenge
: NeoGrowth had high borrowing costs of about 13.8% in FY17 (1HFY17: 14.3%), considering its main lenders are non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and foreign development financial institutions. The company has also resorted to assignment (INR380 million worth of loans assigned in FY17) to diversify its funding sources. The company has tied up its financing requirements up to 1HFY18. At the existing levels of borrowings, liquidity is comfortable due to the short tenor of its loan assets (90% of its loan portfolio have a tenor of less than two years). Ind-Ra expects the company to have a lower leverage (FY17: debt/equity 2.7x) than that of similar rated peers because of its borrower profile. 

Declining Operational Costs Key to Profitability
: NeoGrowth faces operational risks, where the merchant could replace NeoGrowth’s point-of-sale terminal or prompt customers to pay by cash, resulting in NeoGrowth’s loss of visibility about borrower’s cash flows. Such risks are partly mitigated by its daily monitoring model. Ind-Ra expects NeoGrowth’s operating costs as a percentage average loans to decline to 8%-10% in FY19 from 11% in FY17 and 25% in FY16 on account of an improvement in operating leverage.

FY17 was the first profitable financial year for
NeoGrowth, with a profit before tax of about INR65 million. 

Adequate Capital
: NeoGrowth plans to maintain a minimum capital adequacy ratio of about 20% and a Tier 1 capital of about 15% (FY17: INR1.57 billion equity capital, 30.49% Tier 1 capital). Considering its asset profile, Ind-Ra expects NeoGrowth to maintain higher capital levels than its peer-rated NBFCs on an ongoing basis.


RATING SENSITIVITIES

Positive: Sustained growth in operational scale and portfolio while maintaining credit quality, diversification of funding sources, lower leverage than those of peers, ability to raise longer tenor debt while maintaining adequate short-term liquidity, and strong capital and operating buffers would enable the company to move down the borrower risk curve, leading to a positive rating action. 

Negative:
Unsustainable increase in credit costs, capitalisation falling below or nearing minimum regulatory requirements and net loss in a financial year could lead to a negative rating action. Moreover, the company’s inability to consistently reduce operating costs or an unsustainable leverage could lead to a negative rating action.


COMPANY PROFILE

NeoGrowth is an NBFC with 13 branches. It primarily lends to retail merchants. Its loan assets under management stood at INR6.8 billion at end-May 2017.


RATING HISTORY

Instrument Type

Current Rating/Outlook

 

Historical Rating/Outlook

               

Rating Type

Rated Limits (million)

Rating

 27 March 2017

21 December 2016

NCDs

Long-term

INR1,575

IND BBB/Stable

IND BBB/Stable

Provisional IND BBB/Stable

Commercial paper

Short-term

INR100

IND A3+

IND A3+

IND A3+


COMPLEXITY LEVEL OF INSTRUMENTS

For details on the complexity levels of the instruments, please visit https://www.indiaratings.co.in/complexity-indicators.

SOLICITATION DISCLOSURES

Additional information is available at www.indiaratings.co.in. The ratings above were solicited by, or on behalf of, the issuer, and therefore, India Ratings has been compensated for the provision of the ratings. 

Ratings are not a recommendation or suggestion, directly or indirectly, to you or any other person, to buy, sell, make or hold any investment, loan or security or to undertake any investment strategy with respect to any investment, loan or security or any issuer.

ABOUT INDIA RATINGS AND RESEARCH

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) is India's most respected credit rating agency committed to providing India's credit markets accurate, timely and prospective credit opinions. Built on a foundation of independent thinking, rigorous analytics, and an open and balanced approach towards credit research, Ind-Ra has grown rapidly during the past decade, gaining significant market presence in India's fixed income market. 

Ind-Ra currently maintains coverage of corporate issuers, financial institutions (including banks and insurance companies), finance and leasing companies, managed funds, urban local bodies, structured finance and project finance companies. 

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Analyst Names

  • Primary Analyst

    Jindal Haria

    Director
    India Ratings and Research Pvt Ltd Wockhardt Towers, 4th floor, West Wing Plot C-2, G Block. Bandra Kurla Complex Bandra (East), Mumbai 400051
    +91 22 40001750

    Media Relation

    Mihir Mukherjee

    Manager Corporate Communications and Investor Relations
    +91 22 40356121