The creation of India's largest private sector bank
My first business trip to India many years ago was a whirlwind affair. I’d gone to scout for investment opportunities and was determined to visit as many financial companies as I could. It was no easy task. There are lots of listed financial companies in India, all with different characteristics: state-owned banks, private banks, non-bank financial companies – each focused on a different segment or region, each with a different return and growth profile. In order to optimise my time, I asked local contacts for recommendations and one name consistently came up: HDFC.
Rather than a single meeting though, my visit to HDFC would require two meetings. For reasons that I would learn, ‘HDFC’ comprised two distinct organisations, each with its own management and balance sheet. One was a specialist in mortgage loans; the other did everything else. They were each leading companies in their field: HDFC had the country’s largest market share in mortgage loans, which it funded by raising finance in…