Anil Ambani's Reliance Capital has been going through a rough patch for some years. A few months ago, just when it seemed to be recovering, it was hammered at the bourses all over again.
Last December, Bhavesh Kanani, analyst at Centrum Broking, hailed the Reliance Capital stock in a report title Phoenix Rising Again. At the time, the share price had risen to Rs 436 per share. On January 7 this year, the company's share reached a one-year high of Rs 508. But immediately afterwards, its stock began to tumble and is currently at Rs 352.40 per share (April 30) with market cap at around Rs 8,656 crore.
So, is this the right time for the company to hunt for a partner for its general insurance business?
"We are looking for either a foreign insurance major or a private equity major which has invested in other general insurance companies and can bring in expertise and collaboration," says CEO Sam Ghosh.
How hopeful is he of getting a good deal - a partner which infuses a healthy dose of capital for a reasonable equity share? Ghosh does not appear to be unduly perturbed by the recent slide in stock price. "All our businesses are making profits."
Reliance Capital is the parent company of a number of financial services firms - including Reliance Life Insurance Co Ltd, Reliance Capital Asset Management Co Ltd, Reliance Commercial Finance Co Ltd, apart from Reliance General Insurance Co Ltd (RGICL).
The general insurance business is one of its smaller constituents, contributing only 4 per cent to the parent's valuation. Its success, however, in attracting a partner will be a vital pointer to Reliance Capital's current market standing.
After all, despite their tribulations, both Reliance Life Insurance and Reliance Capital Asset Management managed to attract investment from Japan's second largest insurance company, Nippon Life Insurance (NLI).
The two companies raked in about Rs 4,512 crore from NLI for a 26 per cent stake in each, the first in March 2011, the second in January 2012. At the price NLI paid, the combined valuation of just these two companies would be Rs 17,500 crore - more than twice Reliance Capital's entire current worth.
Will the general insurance business too pull off a similar coup?
NLI has made it clear it will not be a partner in the general insurance business, since it no longer has one of its own. Nevertheless, the NLI association with Reliance Capital is bound to help RGICL.
|Reliance Capital has its fingers in different financial pies:|
|Life Insurance||50 per cent|
|Asset Management||21 per cent|
|Commercial Finance||15 per cent|
|Investment||8 per cent|
|General Insurance||4 per cent|
|Broking, distribution||2 per cent|