The government on Sunday refuted media speculation around the initial public offer (IPO) of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) took to Twitter stating that the media "speculation doubting the feasibility" of the state insurer this fiscal year "is not correct".
"It is reiterated that plan is on course for the IPO in the last quarter of this fiscal," Pandey stated.
According to a report by the PTI, LIC's IPO is unlikely to take place in the current financial year ending March 2022, since the valuation of the state-owned life insurer is taking more than foreseen time, and preparatory work is still far from complete.
The government still needs to address certain issues regarding the LIC's valuation, a source told the news agency, adding that the IPO requires vetting not only by SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) but also the IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India), that doesn't have a head for almost seven months.
The official further stated that even after the valuation, there are many regulatory processes that need to be completed.
Valuation of LIC is a complex process because of its size, product mix, real estate assets, subsidiaries and profitability sharing structure, and the size of share sale depends on the valuation, another official said.
Given the number of regulatory procedures to be fulfilled, the official said it would be difficult to meet the deadline of the fourth quarter of the current fiscal by any stretch of the imagination.
The government is banking on the listing of LIC IPO and BPCL strategic sale for meeting its disinvestment target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore.
Recently, speaking about disinvestment, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the government is progressing well. "The tying up of loose ends among the bureaucracy and different departments consumes its own time and that is what we are trying to speed up," she had said.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had in July given its in-principle approval for the listing of LIC.
The government has already appointed 10 merchant bankers for the transaction. To facilitate the listing of LIC, the government earlier this year made about 27 amendments to the Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956.
As per the amendment, the central government will hold at least 75 per cent in LIC for the first five years post the IPO and subsequently hold at least 51 per cent at all times after five years of the listing.
The authorised share capital of LIC shall be Rs 25,000 crore divided into 2,500 crore shares of Rs 10 each, as per the amended legislation. Up to 10 per cent of the LIC IPO issue size would be reserved for policyholders.
In her Budget Speech 2021, Sitharaman had said the IPO of LIC would be launched in the financial year beginning April 1. Currently, the government owns a 100 per cent stake in LIC.
Once listed, LIC is likely to become one of the biggest domestic companies by market capitalisation with an estimated valuation of Rs 8-10 lakh crore.
DIPAM which manages the government's equity in state-owned companies has selected actuarial firm Milliman Advisors for ascertaining the embedded value of LIC for meeting the government's disinvestment target.
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