Bennett, Coleman & Co Limited (BCCL), the publisher of the Times Of India and the parent of Times Internet, has acquired an undisclosed stake in online loan company FinREQ. In a statement, director Bhavik Mehta said that the investment was made through Brand Capital. “Online Portal always needs more media and advertising support than others in order to build a brand for its products, thereby enhancing their market potential,” he added.

Brand Capital is BCCL’s private treaty arm. As such, it looks like the investment in FinREQ is an ads-for-equity deal.  BCCL pioneered private treaties business which involves taking equity in companies in exchange for marketing inventory. An example of how private treaties deals were structured, here.

Meanwhile, BCCL through Brand Capital has made investments in classifieds website Quikr, radio taxi provider Meru, and concierge service Haptik.

FinREQ was founded in 2011 and has tie-ups tie-ups with nationalized, co-operative, foreign, private banks, NBFCs and Housing Finance Companies. The company provides a variety of loans ranging from overdrafts, import & export finance, supply chain financing, loans against property (LAP), loans against share, lease rental discounts and others.

The company says that it will provide loans up to Rs 300 crore which can be processed online. It says that it wants to cut physical meetings, documentation and email correspondences by 80%. FinREQ says that borrowers can upload their proposal digitally, upload attachments & get the loan processed
faster with help of certified consultants.

As such, FinREQ looks like it is catering loans to businesses rather than individuals via payday loans. In recent times, there has been a spate of lending companies looking to offer payday loan-like products such as ZipLoan, CASHe, MoneyTap, LoanMeet, and EarlySalary.

Times of India group and Fintech

Meanwhile, The Times of India Group has been active in investing in fintech companies and launching products.

  • In February, it launched  ETinsure.com, an online insurance platform, starting with car and two-wheeler insurance from seven companies.
  • It also has a money management app called ETMoney and launched gold deposits in July.
  • Meanwhile, it has also invested $1.5 million in P2P lending platform Faircent in an ad-for-equity deal.

Note that HDFC Bank had acquired Times Bank, a private sector bank which was promoted by the Times Group, way back in 2000. As such, the bank would have been a valuable asset for the new fintech companies.