Little Lotus is a nobody in the beginning of the 2008 movie, Kung Fu Panda, other than being a panda with a ridiculous dream. He, with his wide girth, wants to be a martial arts champion aka the Dragon Warrior. But, he tires too soon, loves food and hates steep climbs. Just when it looks like the panda is off his rockers, imagine Bruce Lee and Jet Li making an appearance and saying that they want to bet on the panda. That they believe he will win against the dreaded leopard with the lightening moves, Tai Lung.
The world begins to look confusing, like it has slipped into another dimension. That’s what investors and industry watchers must be experiencing, watching the floundering Religare Enterprises (REL) and its subsidiaries attract the money of ace private equity firms and investors such as Kedaara Capital, Lucky Investment Managers’ Ashish Kacholia and Param Capital’s Mukul Agrawal. REL, a financial services group, has been taking many punches and hardly landing any recently. So, why have these investors bought in?
News behind the headlines
Usually, PE firms need certain boxes to be ticked before they invest. One is that the company has to be an established player; Second, a strong management and three, visible growth potential. But REL, at first glance, appears to score poorly on all these fronts, going by its past.
In 2017, its minority shareholders began getting antsy. They wanted a change in REL’s board, claiming that the company’s funds were being mismanaged and that loans issued by REL were being written off. The dissent grew louder with each passing month and, in 2018, the RBI pulled up REL’s NBFC Religare Finvest or RFL, which caters to micro, small and medium enterprises. Therefore, the central bank asked the NBFC to adhere to the bank’s corrective action plan (CAP) till a debt reconstruction plan could be put into place. Under the plan, RFL was not allowed to expand its credit/investment portfolio (other than in