By Nupur Anand and Chris Thomas MUMBAI (Reuters) – Shares in Life Insurance Corp of India (LIC) slid 6% in their market debut on Tuesday, a fresh setback for the state-owned giant after its IPO, while record-breaking, raised far less for the government than initially envisioned. India’s biggest insurer and largest domestic financial investor was […]
LIC shares sink in debut after disappointing, albeit record India IPO
By Nupur Anand and Chris Thomas
MUMBAI (Reuters) – Shares in Life Insurance Corp of India (LIC) slid 6% in their market debut on Tuesday, a fresh setback for the state-owned giant after its IPO, while record-breaking, raised far less for the government than initially envisioned.
India’s biggest insurer and largest domestic financial investor was trading at 887 rupees as of late morning, giving it a market value of around 5.6 trillion rupees or $72 billion and making it the country’s fifth biggest company.
The share price decline reflects a slump in the broader market since LIC’s IPO opened for subscription on May 4.
“We were not expecting a big listing as markets were jittery, expect it to pick up,” LIC’s Chairman M. R. Kumar told reporters.
The government, which had positioned the sale as the first and biggest of a wave of privatisations aimed at replenishing state coffers, raised roughly 205 billion rupees or $2.7 billion from selling a 3.5% stake in India’s largest-ever IPO.
That compares with a fundraising goal of around 300 billion rupees in April that was in turn halved from earlier expectations after investors pushed back against lofty valuations. Initial government estimates had valued LIC at around 17 trillion rupees.
FALLING MARKET SHARE
LIC is the latest in a string of Indian companies that have fallen sharply after listing as investors looked closely at potential profitability and question valuations.
Fintech firm Paytm plunged in its debut last November following a $2 billion IPO, at the time India’s largest, and its shares now are worth not much more than quarter of their IPO price.
Other big listings such as food delivery firm Zomato Ltd and cosmetics retailer Nykaa are also trading at large discounts to their IPO prices.
LIC dominates India’s insurance sector with more than 280 million policies. The 66-year-old company was the fifth-biggest global insurer in terms of insurance premium collection in 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available.
Amid fierce competition from rivals such as HDFC Life Insurance Company Ltd and ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company Ltd, LIC’s market share has dropped to 63% from 66% in 2019, according to data from the insurance regulator.
LIC’s Kumar said the company will focus on higher margin policies as well as improving its digital offerings and its bank partnership distribution network to arrest the fall in market share, adding that he expects market share to stabilise around current levels.
Macquarie Research’s Suresh Ganapathy said LIC will find it challenging to shift into higher margin policies as rivals have an established presence in that segment. He started coverage of LIC with a price target of 1,000 rupees and a neutral rating.
Investors have also been concerned that LIC’s investment decisions, including those in loss-making state companies, could be influenced by government demands.
(Reporting by Nupur Anand in Mumbai, Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Writing and additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed in New Delhi; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)