SKS Microfinance Prices High IPO

(Reuters) – SKS Microfinance, an Indian firm that makes small loans to the poor, has raised about $358 million in an IPO after pricing the sale at the top end of the indicated price band, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

People were attracted by the business model of the company, which has been backed by global investor George Soros, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and Infosys Technologies (INFY.BO) founder N.R. Narayana Murthy.

The initial public offering, which closed on Monday, was priced at 985 rupees a share, said the source who could not be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The sale of 16.8 million shares received bids for 13.7 times the shares on offer, stock exchange data showed.

Last week, the company allocated 3.02 million shares at the same price to 36 cornerstone investors, including the fund management arms of JP Morgan (JPM.N), Morgan Stanley (MS.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N), ICICI Prudential, BNP Paribas, Nomura and Reliance Capital.

SKS Microfinance plans to use the share sale proceeds to augment its capital base to meet future capital requirements, which are likely to be fuelled by growth in the business, the company said in its IPO prospectus.

The IPO, a first by a microfinance institution in India and one of only a handful around the world, has drawn keen interest from countries with major microfinance industries, including Bangladesh, Mexico and South America, as well as private equity firms, which have piled into the fast growing sector.

However, it has also drawn sharp criticism from some microfinance institutions and non-government organisations, which say the institutions should not be responsible to capital markets.

Citigroup (C.N), Kotak Mahindra Capital (KTKM.BO) and Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) arranged the SKS offering. ($1 = 46.2 rupees) (Reporting by Pratish Narayanan; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)