Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Turnaround Strategy? LIC likely to acquire 51% stake in IDBI Bank.


In a bid to achieve targets in Operation Clean-up, the Ministry of Finance is keen to finalise the acquisition of state-owned IDBI Bank by Life Insurance Corporation of India in three-four months to ensure the lender’s balance-sheet shows an improvement by next fiscal.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) had, on June 29, given a one-time exemption to LIC to acquire a 40 per cent stake in debt-ridden IDBI Bank, taking its total holding in the lender to over 51 per cent. The acquisition will help infuse ₹10,000-13,000 crore in the bank, which had non-performing loans totalling ₹55,588 crore as of March 2018 and is under the RBI’s Prompt Corrective Action.

“IRDAI has already cleared the transaction and other approvals are also in the pipeline. The idea is that before the end of 2018, the transaction should be finalised and it should start showing results by the end of the financial year,” as reported in a corporate announcement page of BSE. The Finance Ministry is already in discussions with IDBI Bank and LIC on the timelines and proposed valuation for the acquisition.

As IDBI Bank is a listed entity, the deal is likely to take place at market value. The boards of IDBI Bank and LIC are, however, expected to come up with a final proposal on the valuation and timeline by the end of this month.

The next step is LIC has to go to its board and inform the board about the conditions under which the approval is given. What we have asked for is: what is going to be their plan for reducing the stake to 15% over a period. The government, which is the promoter of the bank, holds almost 81%. The deal, which will trigger takeover regulations, will also require an approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

Interestingly, as per capital market regulations, any company that acquires 25% stake in a listed entity has to make an open offer to acquire 26% additional stake from public shareholders. SEBI is likely to waive off this requirement as it has previously done before in case for government companies.

The IRDA rules don't permit a single entity to run two separate insurance companies. With this acquisition, IDBI Bank will be a subsidy of LIC. LIC's ambition of getting into banking business may come true as LIC Housing Finance had applied for the banking license in 2014 but failed to receive RBI nod. No clear information regarding the business of IDBI Federal Life Insurance has been decided yet.

Several financial experts have opposed this deal as it needs to bypass Insurance law. The infusion of capital by LIC is a bet on NPA struck IDBI Bank as it is very unlikely to turn around the bank's books in near term.

- Chaitanya Kulkarni

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