Kerala: State-based banks continue to enjoy Yusuffali’s backing

In Dhanlaxmi, another Thrissur-based bank, he has a 5% holding valued at Rs 37.3 crore. In CSB Bank, his 2.17% ownership is worth Rs 133.97 crore.
Chairman and Managing Director of LuLu Group Yusuffali MA (Photo | A Sanesh, EPS)
Chairman and Managing Director of LuLu Group Yusuffali MA (Photo | A Sanesh, EPS)

KOCHI: What’s common between Yusuffali M A, the founder of supermarket chain Lulu Group, and Kerala’s banks? Well, he has ploughed money into every bank based in the state, and he’s keeping the investment close to 5%, the maximum allowed for an individual investor without RBI approval.

In ESAF Small Finance Bank, Yusuffali has picked up a 4.99% stake through two preferential placements: 21,346,993 shares in September 2018 and 1,066,666 shares in March 2021. In both instances, he invested at Rs 40/share. Based on the stock’s Friday close, at Rs 68.85, his investment is now valued at Rs 154.65 crore, a profit of Rs 65 crore. 

His biggest investment is, however, in Federal Bank. Yusuffali’s 3.13% stake in the Aluva-headquartered bank is worth Rs 1,112.96 crore. The holding was as high as 3.95% in September 2020, which was pared down in the quarter ended September 2023. Yusuffali also has investments in South India Bank, Dhanlaxmi Bank and CSB Bank (earlier Catholic Syrian Bank). 

An individual investor can hold up to 5% in an Indian bank without approval of the central bank. Any increase above 5% requires RBI clearance. Yusuffali owns 4.32% of South Indian Bank. The stake is worth Rs 225.32 crore, based on Friday’s close. In Dhanlaxmi, another Thrissur-based bank, he has a 5% holding valued at Rs 37.3 crore. In CSB Bank, his 2.17% ownership is worth Rs 133.97 crore.

A Lulu Group official said Yusuffali has been backing not just banks but also good state-based companies. He owns a nearly 10% stake in Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL). The Lulu Group founder is also the biggest NRI investor in Kannur International Airport Ltd (KIAL). He also owns a 17.02% stake in INKEL, a public-private partnership (PPP) company promoted by the Kerala government.

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