MUMBAI, March 4 (Reuters) - India's largest commercial
vehicle financier, Shriram Transport Finance Company Ltd
, plans to expand its nascent car lending portfolio to
cover the entire country over the next 18 months as its core
market continues to struggle amid a slowing economy.
The company, which largely finances trucks, buses and
tractors, started focusing on this segment six months ago. Out
of the total $8 billion assets under management, heavy
commercial vehicles account for 40 percent, outlook for which
continues to be grim.
"Right now it (car lending) is in some markets where we have
a strong customer base," Managing Director Umesh Govind Revankar
"It is gradually growing every quarter, so we keep adding
new areas. And maybe ... around 18 months we should be able to
cover all India," he added.
Shriram, whose holding company is awaiting approvals for
setting up a new bank in the country, currently finances cars in
some western and southern states such as Gujarat and
Competition in the car lending segment is intensifying as
more banks enter newer areas, especially in rural and semi-urban
markets where financing has been scarce.
Revankar said he was seeing delays in payments from
borrowers of heavy and medium commercial vehicles, while loan
demand continued to be weak. He expects asset growth to remain
flat at around 10 percent in the year to March 31.
Sales of medium and heavy commercial vehicles have fallen 26
percent in the April to January period, according to data from
the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
($1 = 62.0300 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and Swati Pandey; Editing by