Housing finance major Dewan Housing Finance Corp (DHFC) has been in news for its acquisition of Deutsche Postbank Home Finance last week. The housing finance company plans to grow at above 25%, though in the last few years it registered a growth rate of 40%. Its appetite for acquisitions, however, still continues to remain strong. Kapil Wadhawan, chairman and managing director, DHFC spoke to Hindustan Times about the future plans in the wake of the housing loan scam and expectations of the Reserve Bank of India guidelines on the new banking licenses. Excerpts:
Now that you have acquired a housing finance company, what are you plans in the immediate future?
The demand for housing is huge in the country and now with the acquisition, we can strengthen our position in the northern region as well. We have been strong in the western and southern markets. We plan to maintain a growth rate of 25% though we have been growing at about 40% in the last few years.
What are the challenges ahead for housing finance companies considering the current scenario and the housing loan scam?
The biggest challenge is access to long term funds. The external commercial borrowing (ECB) window is not available to us and that is a constraint. The Reserve Bank of India will have to look into the issue.
Considering these constraints, which typically a bank does not face, would you be interested in entering the banking sector?
Yes, we would like to look at the banking sector for expanding operations and future growth. Once the RBI guidelines are out on the issue, we would definitely be interested in the sector. We would apply for a banking license.
Would you look at further acquisitions to enter the banking sector?
Yes, we are open to further acquisitions and we could look even at a bank. We have always been focused on inorganic growth. We are awaiting the guidelines from the central bank.
What is the average interest rate that your company is charging at present?
The interest rate that we are charging is 9% and above.
Are you looking at any new customer segment?
The non resident Indians (NRIs) will be an important target audience for us. We are already serving the NRIs but they comprise a small segment in our overall business at present.