Religare in Rs500-crore deal to buy Citigroup mortgages

Financial services firm Religare Enterprises Ltd yesterday said it is acquiring a part of Citigroup Inc's home loan portfolio in India for Rs500 crore ($107 million).

Malvinder SinghReligare, founded by Indian billionaire brothers Shivinder and Malvinder Singh, has struck the cash deal to buy up the mortgages through its unit Religare Finvest.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in a month, Kavi Arora, chief executive officer of the New Delhi-based Religare, told Bloomberg. Citigroup's Indian banking unit has a total loan book of more than Rs40,000 crore, with mortgages of Rs9,000 crore, Abhijit Sen, chief financial officer of Citigroup's South Asia unit, said.

''Our treasury unit periodically looks at small tranches of portfolio sale to deploy liquidity in fresh assets and optimise return on capital,'' Sen said in a telephone interview. ''Mortgages is a core and priority business for us and we continue to originate such assets.''

"The demographics of Citi's home equity customers perfectly suited us in terms of their assets, locations and profile," Arora had earlier told The Economic Times, adding the transaction was expected to close by September.

An unnamed Citi official was quoted as saying the transaction was a small portfolio.