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November 19, 2012

Private-Equity Firms Eye Growing Microfinance Sector

The microfinance industry, which caters to poor borrowers with small-scale loans, is attracting major investment from private-equity firms, says The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper's Deal Journal blog notes Luxembourg-based Bamboo Finance's acquisition of nonprofit microlender Accion Investment Fund and its investment in Mongolia's XacBank, a formerly nonprofit lender that is active in Asia.

Like Xac, many microfinance entities in developing countries are evolving into full-fledged banks and providing returns of 10 percent or more, according to Xavier Pierluca, chief investment officer at Bamboo, which manages $250-million in assets and focuses on socially responsible investing. Fueled by equity funds and big banks, investment in microlenders have increased three- or four-fold since 2007, he said.