India’s Bajaj Finance reverses course after dropping 4% on RBI ban order

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Shares of Bajaj Finance turned positive after falling 4.1% in early trade on Thursday as brokerages shrugged off concerns, a day after India’s central bank barred it from issuing loans under two products with immediate effect.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the non-bank lender failed to issue key information to borrowers under its eCOM and Insta EMI Card digital lending products, as required under the RBI’s new digital lending guidelines.

Enforced last year, the guidelines require that a lender disclose all charges to borrowers upfront and also detail its recovery practices in the event of a default.

Brokerage Jefferies retained its ‘buy’ rating and price target of 9,470 rupees, noting that the RBI order was a “slight bump” and that the non-bank lender’s broader earnings momentum would continue.

Bajaj Finance’s stock reversed course to trade 0.5% higher at 7,255.2 rupees at 10:26 a.m. IST. This was the stock’s most active session since July 4, with more than 2.7 million shares changing hands.

Insta EMI Cards segment accounted for only 5% of its total customers and about 10% of customers availing EMI (equated monthly instalment) products, Jefferies analysts said in a note.

They estimated that the segment contributed less than 0.5% to the non-bank lender’s total profit.

Bajaj Finance said in its statement that it was complying with the RBI order and that the restrictions would not have a material financial impact on the company.

Analysts at Macquarie, however, were concerned by the share of customers from the products that were restricted. “We think these numbers look high, and for this reason, we are surprised by management’s comment of minimal operational impact,” Suresh Ganapathy wrote in a note.

A possible decline in its assets under management and weak fee growth impacting profitability were among the key risks from the RBI order, he said.

Twenty-nine analysts covering the stock, including Jefferies and Macquarie, rate it the equivalent of ‘buy’ on average, as per LSEG data.

(Reporting by Kashish Tandon and Nandan Mandayam in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman)