The journey of Piramal Capital & Housing Finance (PCHF) has been one of constant evolution. It encompasses reacting to feedback from existing clients as well as targeting new market opportunities to build a sustainable, value-driven financial services enterprise. The Financial services business of the Piramal Group came into being as a third party focused fiduciary, raising and deploying capital over a fixed tenure to realize returns for predominantly retail investors.
Further, following a strategic decision the foundation of an NBFC to start a proprietary lending business was laid. Later, the platform was reorganized via an integration of the fiduciary business and the NBFC to build a uniquely differentiated strategy that prioritized the relationship with the developer counterpart over and above the product or transaction itself. The platform also added a separate vertical, called the Corporate Finance Group (which already existed as Structured Investment Group under Piramal Enterprises Ltd.) to provide customized funding solutions to companies across sectors, thus, making the platform sector- agnostic. Recently, the platform entered into the retail financing space through the housing finance business as a natural extension of the business, thus, covering the entire funding spectrum.
Piramal Fund Management is born
Piramal Fund Management (then known as Indiareit) was one of the first real estate funding platforms in India. It was launched as a third party focused fiduciary i.e. it raised external funds for specific strategies/opportunities (aided by the Group commitment, much beyond the mandated requirement), and deployed the money over a fixed tenure to realise returns for predominantly retail investors. From inception till 2009, the platform raised three funds - Domestic Fund I, Domestic Fund III and Offshore Fund I (as Indian Advisor).
Piramal Finance (NBFC) is born
After the sale of Piramal Healthcare’s domestic formulations business to Abbott, a strategic decision was taken to lay the foundation of a financial services business. Piramal Finance Limited(PFL) was set up as a non-banking financial company (NBFC) to start proprietary lending business. From 2010 to 2013, both Indiareit and Piramal Finance Limited (PFL). focused primarily on real estate, with the fiduciary business offering mezzanine and equity funding and the NBFC offering structured debt to real estate.
Fund IV is launched
The platform grew from strength to strength and the investment management capabilities were validated by the launch of Fund IV in 2010 which managed a mobilisation of ₹ 900 crores with the active participation of major multinational banks and other distributors of repute across the country.
Change of Management
The senior management team underwent a change whereby Mr Khushru Jijina rejoined the platform as the Managing Director of Piramal Fund Management Pvt. Ltd.
Launch of unique strategies
The Fund business also enabled the platform to bring to market certain unique strategies such as slum redevelopment through Mumbai Redevelopment Fund where the platform raised ₹ 500 Cr. Additionally Indiareit Fund Scheme V was launched towards a geographically diversified portfolio in Tier-I residential projects where we raised ₹ 1000 Cr.
At the same time Piramal Fund Management also won the “Best Domestic Real Estate Fund” award at the Annual CNBC Awaaz Real Estate Awards 2013.
Laying the foundation
In 2014, after a strategic review of the growing business and spotting an opportunity in a competitive marketplace, the fiduciary business and PFL became an integrated platform under the leadership of Mr. Khushru Jijina. This reorganization was deliberate and served as the single most defining USP for the business and its subsequent growth. In combining the debt and the equity business, PFL was able to provide perpetual capital to a real estate developer i.e. operate across the entire capital stack right from early stage equity to senior secured debt. The team was also reorganized as per geography, with a local office in each target market for eyes and ears on the ground, along with a full pyramid of cross functional professionals, comprising investment, asset management, risk and legal.
Charting new strategies
Drawing confidence from the unique capabilities of the platform, journey into 2014 continued with ‘Innovation’ as a key building block. The platform concluded its first institutional JV, setting up a US$ 500 mn platform with CPPIB (Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board) to provide residential debt to Tier-I developers. Another unique and first ever strategy, Indiareit Apartment Fund was also launched during this period. It brought in the strategy of bulk buying of apartments which was oversubscribed within three months, securing an aggregate commitment of around ₹ 500 Cr. During this period, the team spotted an opportunity building out in last mile construction finance, wherein for regulatory reasons an arbitrage existed when competing against banks for such business. Construction Finance, therefore, was included in the platform’s offering which constitutes a major proportion of the proprietary AUM.
Partnering for growth
The relationship building approach continued within the non-real estate funding vertical, CFG and a US$ 750 mn JV was forged with APG, a Dutch pension fund, targeting mezzanine investments towards operating infrastructure assets.
Taking home the title of “Firm of the Year” by the Global PERE Awards 2014, and winning the “Private Debt Investor Awards” as Real Estate Manager of the Year across Asia-Pacific was validation of the company’s growth.
A year of expansion
The platform embarked into an aggressive expansion mode with the backing of a stable growth across the past few years. With an existing presence in Mumbai, NCR, Bangalore, Pune and Chennai, the platform made its first foray in the Ahmedabad market and re-entered the Hyderabad market. The platform also pivoted away from residential and started targeting both structured debt and construction finance in the commercial space.
The platform closed the year by coming in at #12 in the Top 75 'Asia-Pacific Real Estate Fund Managers Ranking'.
A year of Innovation
Focusing on the relationship driven approach that the platform always exhibited with the development partners, the ‘Piramal Preferred Partner’ program was introduced whereby it’s selected existing development partners were allowed to draw from a pre-sanctioned limit. In line with the platform’s philosophy, this limit was aimed at providing fungiblity across the entire suite of funding and financing options that the platform is capable of extending.
Taking the diversification strategy further, the platform expanded its portfolio to offer flexi lease rental discounting (LRD) for commercial assets. PFL also announced the single largest debt transaction in the real estate funding space with Lodha Group for ₹ 2320 Cr.
Integration to diversify
The mezzanine funding unit known as SIG (Structured Investment Group, now known as Corporate Finance Group) was integrated with the real-estate investment business to increase its exposure in non-real estate sectors with a renewed focus and ability to lend across the risk curve from 12% up to 18%.
For the second consecutive year the platform won the ‘Best Overall Investment Manager – India’ award at the Euromoney real estate awards.
A year of partnerships and collaboration
PFL’s track record was validated once again with a strategic partnership with another institutional investor of global repute, Ivanhoé Cambridge, a real estate subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Canada’s second largest pension fund arm. With an initial commitment of US$ 250 mn from Ivanhoé Cambridge, the platform announced its intention to provide long term equity capital to top residential developers across five Indian cities. Partnership from such marquee investors time and again was a testament to the team’s ability to constantly raise the bar and spot newer opportunities within the target markets.
Piloting with SME lending
To enable access to smaller corporates who are typically not covered by traditional wholesale lending channels, the platform piloted an expansion into lending towards Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with the formation of an Emerging Corporate Lending group. It targets transactions ranging from ₹ 10 to 100 crores across sectors as diverse as automotive dealerships, auto ancillaries, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, electronic surveillance and IT services.
Entry into Retail financing
Given the size, scale and market relevance of the wholesale lending business, it was a natural progression to assess opportunities within the retail lending space. Therefore, the platform announced its intention to set up a retail housing finance vertical and launched the Piramal Housing Finance Limited. The housing finance vertical offers home loans as well as loans against property and construction finance for small developers.
A new horizon, an integrated future
Piramal Capital & Housing Finance Limited was established with the merger of Piramal Finance and Piramal Housing Finance Limited. With the merger of the wholesale and retail finance businesses, a single integrated entity was formed combining the strengths, expertise and advantages of both worlds.