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Covid-19 impact: LIC listing, IDBI Bank stake sale may be postponed

PTI New Delhi | Updated on May 31, 2020 Published on May 31, 2020

Listing of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and sale of the government’s stake in IDBI Bank may be delayed beyond March 2021 due to a depressed valuation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government aims to garner Rs 90,000 crore from the listing of LIC and stake dilution in IDBI Bank out of a total disinvestment target of Rs 2.10 lakh crore during the current fiscal.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting Budget 2020-21, had announced stake sale in LIC through an initial public offer in the current financial year.

LIC stake sale in the current fiscal seems difficult as the situation is not conducive, sources said.

Besides, they said, there may not be a matching appetite for the mega issue in the present market conditions.

Due to the Covid situation, the government recently extended for the second time the deadline for bidding for privatisation of India’s second-biggest oil marketing company, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), by over a month to July 31.

The government currently owns 100 per cent in LIC, while it holds around a 46.5 per cent stake in IDBI Bank.

The sources said, the government will have to cut down its expected realisation from stake dilution of both LIC and IDBI Bank, even if market conditions improve.

So, selling them at low valuation would be an imprudent decision, they added.

Besides valuation, the sources said, listing of LIC involves a lot of regulatory clearances and, more importantly, amendment to the LIC Act itself.

Market participants had already termed the listing of the insurance behemoth as the IPO of the decade, akin to the Saudi Aramco listing.

The 60-year-old state-owned firm, LIC is the country’s largest insurer, with a market share of 76.28 per cent in terms of the number of policies and 71 per cent in first-year premiums.

LIC has many subsidiaries, including IDBI Bank.

Turning the corner, IDBI Bank on Saturday posted a profit of Rs 135 crore for the March quarter on account of recoveries from bad loans. The lender reported a profit after 13 straight quarters of net losses.

The bank had posted a net loss of Rs 4,918 crore in the corresponding period of last year.

In January 2019, LIC completed the acquisition of 51 per cent controlling stake in the lender. The state-owned life insurer infused Rs 21,624 crore in the bank.

The bank, which is under the Reserve Bank of India’s prompt corrective action (PCA) framework, said it has achieved all PCA parameters for exit except return on asset.

Published on May 31, 2020
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