Retail investors’ holding in NSE-listed companies has hit a six-year high of 21.35 per cent at the end of March 31, 2015, with a valuation of nearly Rs 8 lakh crore, primarily due to a sharp jump in equity markets.

Interestingly, retail investors opted for smaller companies to invest as institutional investors typically gave them a miss.

According to Prime Database, the retail investors’ holding went up to 21.35 per cent at the end of March 2015 from 20.99 per cent as of March 2014.

Foreign portfolio investors’ (FPIs) ownership in NSE-listed firms stood at 6.44 per cent, while that of domestic institutional investors (DIIs) came in at 5.01 per cent.

“The retail ownership at 21.35 per cent is the highest in the last six years, rising from 20.96 per cent in June 2009...

The value of retail holdings has recorded a handsome increase, reaching the highest level at Rs 7.94 lakh crore, up 50 per cent from a year ago, courtesy the buoyant markets,” the report stated.

However, the retail share in Nifty companies stood at a meagre 7.31 per cent whereas for the top 100 NSE-listed firms, it stood at 8.19 per cent.

The increase was driven largely by the optimism about reform measures taken by the Narendra Modi government, according to experts.

The analysis is based on shareholding patterns filed by 1,467 of the total 1,471 companies listed on NSE for the quarter ended March this year.

Overall, retail holding rose in 712 companies listed on NSE, while their stake fell in 718 firms.

The increase in retail shareholding is in sync with the BSE benchmark Sensex surging 25 per cent in the past fiscal.

In terms of retail shareholders by numbers, the Reliance Group took the lead.

The top five companies with the highest number of retail shareholders are Reliance Power (37.82 lakh), Reliance Industries (27.44 lakh), Reliance Communications (16.35 lakh), State Bank of India (11.95 lakh), Reliance Infrastructure (11.48 lakh) and Reliance Capital (10.25 lakh).

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala (along with his wife Rekha Jhunjhunwala) is the largest ‘individual’ public shareholder with their cumulative holding as of March 2015 at Rs 8,331 crore compared with Rs 5,262 crore a year ago.