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As on: Feb 24, 2019 10:59 AM
Life Insurance Corporation may enter banking space; eyes majority stake in IDBI Bank
26-Jun-18   19:28 Hrs IST

Insurance behemoth LIC is looking to enter the banking space by acquiring majority stake in IDBI Bank as the deal is expected to provide business synergies despite the lender's stressed balance sheet, sources said.

As the government makes efforts to revive the fortunes of IDBI Bank, which is saddled with huge amounts of bad loans, LIC becoming a major stakeholder in the lender could be beneficial for both state-owned financial players in the long run, they added.

While a final decision is yet to emerge on whether LIC would be snapping up over 50 per cent stake in IDBI Bank, official sources said the preliminary contours of such a plan is being worked out.

A possible scenario would be the insurance major making IDBI Bank as a subsidiary on the line of its housing finance and mutual fund businesses.

According to the sources, there would be business synergies in case the LIC-IDBI Bank deal materialises.

A listed entity, IDBI Bank is grappling with mounting toxic loans with gross nonperforming assets rising to a staggering Rs 556 bn at the end of latest March quarter. During the three months, the lender's net loss stood at Rs 56.63 bn.

The bank has a market capitalisation of nearly Rs 230 bn while its real estate assets as well as its investment portfolio are estimated to be worth over Rs 200 bn.

Among its non-core assets are investments in the National Stock Exchange, IDBI Federal Life Insurance IDBI Mutual Fund, IDBI Capital Markets and National Securities Depository Ltd.

Taking into consideration these factors, the current valuation of the bank does not reflect its "inherent fundamentals" and at this juncture, it would be a better proposition to rope in a state-owned entity as a strategic investor, the sources said.

On Monday, a senior Finance Ministry official had said that both LIC and IDBI Bank have independent boards, which would take a call on the possible deal.

In his Budget speech for 2016-17, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the process of transformation of IDBI Bank has already started. "Government will take it forward and also consider the option of reducing its stake to below 50 per cent," he had said.