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Shares of IIFL Finance were locked in a 20 percent lower circuit at 478.50 on Tuesday after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) barred IIFL Finance from sanctioning and disbursing gold loans with immediate effect on certain material supervisory concerns.

“The Reserve Bank of India, in the exercise of its powers under Section 45L(1)(b) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, directed IIFL Finance Ltd to cease and desist, with immediate effect, from sanctioning or disbursing gold loans or assigning/ securitising/ selling any of its gold loans,” the RBI said in a press release.

Issuing a clarification on the action, IIFL Finance said, “We reaffirm our commitment to rectify observations of the RBI in the gold loan portfolio to comply with RBI findings at the earliest and will continue with our endeavor to provide gold loan services in the overall interest of customers”.

Following the recent action by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Jefferies has decided to uphold its ‘buy’ recommendation on IIFL Finance, setting a target price of 765 per share. However, the RBI’s imposition of restrictions, pending a special audit and rectification process, could potentially impact the company’s earnings negatively. This impact is particularly concerning due to the unwinding of gold loans, which make up 32 percent of IIFL Finance’s Assets Under Management (AUM), according to the brokerage.

The imposed limitations could result in a reduction in co-lending income and a potential rise in the cost of funds for IIFL Finance. According to Jefferies’ analysis, if the ban on gold loans continues for nine months, it could have a significant impact on the company’s earnings per share (EPS), with estimates suggesting a potential decline of 25-30 percent.

IIFL Finance reported a 29 percent growth in net profit to 545 crore for the December quarter on higher loan sales and resultant interest income, cushioning the impact of higher regulatory charges. Overall loan growth jumped 34 percent to 77,444 crore, led by its key products like gold and home loans, which grew 35 percent and 25 percent to 24,692 crore and 25,519 crore, respectively.

Its total income grew 28 percent to 1,687.5 crore, the company added. The asset quality improved overall, with the gross non-performing assets ratio declining to 1.7 in the reporting period from 2.1 percent and the net non-performing assets ratio declining to 0.9 from 1.1, said Nirmal Jain, the founder of the company.

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