KARACHI: The Telenor Group has increased its shareholding in Tameer Microfinance Bank to 100%, which makes the country’s first and largest microfinance bank a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Norway-based telecommunications giant.
Speaking to The Express Tribune on Thursday, Tameer’s founder and CEO Nadeem Hussain said he and other minority shareholders that collectively held 49% stakes in the bank have now sold their shares to the Telenor Group.
Hussain held 29.4% stake in Tameer through his company called EMC whereas other shareholders namely International Finance Corporation, Centurion, Nizar Noor Muhammed and Noor Muhammad Mewawalla held 4.9%, 7.3%, 3.6% and 3.6%, respectively. Telenor Pakistan controlled the rest of 51% shareholding in Tameer.
Hussain refused to state the size of the transaction. Net assets of Tameer amounted to Rs3.2 billion at the end of June 2015, according to its latest financial accounts. The bank earned Rs382.8 million in the first six months of 2015, which is 23.2% higher than the net profit for Jan-Jun 2014.
Hussain added that with the Telenor Group controlling 100% shareholding in Tameer, Pakistan’s first and largest branchless banking solution, Easypaisa, will immediately become part of the microfinance bank.
Launched jointly by Tameer and Telenor Pakistan in 2009, Easypaisa has over 70,000 shops in more than 800 cities across the country. Nearly 650,000 transactions are conducted on Easypaisa every day by 15 million active customers.
In addition to selling his stake in the bank, Hussain is also stepping down as its CEO. However, he will continue his association with the bank by serving as a member of its board of directors. Ali Chaudhry is going to replace him as president and CEO, according to an official statement.
“Transitions like these are always a moment of mixed emotions. Naturally, I am a little sad to leave Tameer, as it represents a long labour of love and a decade of innovation. But I am more excited, as it moves on to the next step in its evolution,” Hussain said.
Without disclosing the name of the organisation he is going to join next, Hussain said he intends to work in the “digital and financial inclusion space” in the short term at least.
However, he said he is not going to set up another microfinance bank or branchless banking platform. “I have signed an agreement with the Telenor Group that bars me from setting up a business that can compete with Tameer or Easypaisa for at least two years,” he said.
Tameer is the second-largest provider of microcredit in terms of the gross loan portfolio (GLP). Its GLP was Rs12.1 billion at the end of 2015, which constituted 13.1% of the total market size.
As for the number of active borrowers, Tameer was the fourth largest player at the end of 2015 with 7.6% market share.
However, Tameer leads the microfinance industry when it comes to the number of active savers and the value of savings. At the end of 2015, Tameer had over 4.9 million micro-savers representing 35.5% of the market size. Its value of savings was Rs15.6 billion, which constituted 24.2% of the total micro-savings on Dec 31, 2015.
In addition to Tameer, as many as nine microfinance banks, 16 microfinance institutions, six rural support programmes and 16 ‘other’ entities operate in the microfinance industry.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2016