As the euphoria over Zomato’s $1.3 billion listing fades, anticipation is building for another eventful initial public offering (IPO). One so large that it will make the foodtech major’s share sale look like a blip.
State-owned leviathan Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is set to go public by March 2022. And the government has indicated indicated The Hindu Divestment goal achievable; LIC IPO to fetch ₹1 lakh crore: CEA Read more that it plans to raise a staggering Rs 1,00,000 crore ($13.4 billion) from the flotation.
Even half that number would make it India’s largest-ever listing by a distance.
This IPO’s significance derives not merely from its size. The company is India’s largest life insurer, controlling two-thirds of the market by premium on new policies. As a result, it is a brand like none other, immediately familiar to all sections of society. “LIC is a machine. Its sales team doesn’t have to hard-sell,” says a fund manager with one of India’s largest mutual fund houses. “The brand has been around for so long that you will see heavy retail subscription to the IPO.”
The fund manager and several others The Ken spoke to requested anonymity as they either cannot comment on the listing or do not want to be seen publicly talking about the company.
The 65-year-old insurer is also among India’s biggest state-run companies and its largest equity investor, with sizeable holdings in companies such as cigarette and FMCG giant ITC Ltd and engineering and construction conglomerate Larsen & Toubro.
But above all, the success of the IPO is paramount in shoring up the government’s shaky finances. After all, the Centre plans to raise Rs 1,75,000 crore ($23.5 billion) by selling its stakes in companies in the year ending March 2022.
And that is why the government cannot afford to do with the LIC what it did with another of its consumer-facing entities when it took it public in 2019. The government valued the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) at under Rs 5,200 crore ($700 million). Amid criticism criticism The Economic Times Railway protest over under-pricing of IRCTC Read more that the government had been way too conservative, IRCTC listed at more than twice that valuation, and is now worth Rs 37,340 crore ($5 billion).
The LIC IPO will be considerably larger than IRCTC’s Rs 645 crore ($87 million issue), which means the government ought to be a lot more careful not to leave too much money on the table. Any such perception could result in the Centre getting skewered, inviting charges it had undersold another one of its crown jewels.