AION Capital puts $40 million in SME lender Clix Capital

Firm to use funds to build consumer lending business, digital platform.

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AION Capital, which manages assets of about $825 million, is a joint venture between US-based private equity major Apollo Global Management and domestic PE major firm ICICI Venture.
NEW DELHI: Clix Capital has raised $40 million (about Rs 282 crore) in fresh financing led by its largest stakeholder AION Capital, even as the country’s broader NBFC sector continues to grapple with a combination of low liquidity and increased scrutiny over poor loan book quality.

The small and medium enterprise-focused lending platform founded by Pramod Bhasin and Anil Chawla will use the capital infusion to push into the consumer lending segment, while continuing to build its digital platform.

“The markets are volatile, but we are comfortably placed. We are blessed that our overall non-performing assets are low, and the opportunities that we see, even in this market environment, are good,” Bhasin said.


Post the default by IL&FS last year, NBFCs have found it difficult to raise credit from banks and mutual funds, given the latter’s increasing scrutiny of their loan books.

India-focused AION Capital, which manages assets of about $825 million, is a joint venture between US-based private equity major Apollo Global Management and domestic PE major firm ICICI Venture. It holds an 85% stake in Clix Capital, with Bhasin and Chawla owning the rest.

“Apart from infusion of capital, as majority partner, we are committed to bring in our global best experiences and expertise of technology and practices to Clix’s business. Our attempt would be to grow the Clix business steadily while maintaining a watchful eye on asset quality and profitability,” Parth Gandhi, MD at AION Capital, said.
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As per Bhasin, Clix Capital, which claims to have about 3 million customers since inception, is also targeting a loan book of Rs 5,500-6,000 crore by the end of FY20, up from its current estimated Rs 5,000 crore.

The NBFC has also acquired the loan book of Paytm Postpaid, the online credit business of SoftBank-backed digital major Paytm, as reported by ET in June.

The company, which claims to have NPAs of less than 1%, has seen a significant shift in its corporate lending business vis-a-vis its retail lending, and expects the latter to represent 70% of its overall lending over the next six months. Bhasin, however, admitted that growth had been tempered by the ongoing limited access to capital that is being faced by the sector.

“Although there is a lot of volatility in the market, there is also a scarcity of lenders, and we are still seeing, on the consumer side, enough opportunities for financial inclusion. In the SME segment, there are whole varieties of products—lending to schools, small businesses and healthcare,” Bhasin said.
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Clix Capital is rolling out its digital platform in phases, and which will cater to SMEs and retail borrowers, expects to launch a series of financial products while also using the platform as a lending as a service.

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