LIC plans Rs 75,000-cr market booster for next year

Mar 31st, 2011No Comments

Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), the country’s largest institutional investor, is planning to pump in at least Rs 75,000 crore in equities during the next financial year.

This will be 25 per cent higher than the Rs 60,000 crore it invested in the stock markets this year.

Senior company executives said investment in the forthcoming initial public offers and the government’s Rs 40,000-crore disinvestment programme will be key elements of the equity strategy, as the insurer is looking to acquire a sizeable stake in companies of its interest.

During the current financial year, LIC had originally targeted to invest around Rs 50,000 crore in equities but with the markets recovering and investors returning to buy unit-linked insurance plans (Ulips), the target was breached. As a result, the public sector player ended up investing a higher than budgeted amount in equities.

What also helped matters this year was LIC scaling its projections on total premium income, which includes funds generated from the sale of new policies as well as from renewals. Against a target of around Rs 1,75,000 crore, the life insurer is likely to close the year with premium income of close to Rs 2,00,000 crore.

Against LIC’s investment in the equities segment, foreign institutional investors are expected to pump in around Rs 90,000 crore ($20 billion) during 2010-11. So far in the current financial year, against LIC’s Rs 60,000 crore, FIIs have invested Rs 1,09,000 crore.

In 2008-09, FIIs had sold around Rs 48,250 crore in the equities space, while LIC had invested Rs 40,300 crore. “If LIC is putting in Rs 75,000 crore and another Rs 40,000-50,000 crore is expected to come from other insurance companies and mutual funds, this will mean that the ratio of investment in capital markets will change,” said Rashesh Shah, chairman edelweiss group.

Earlier, FIIs invested 60-70 per cent of the institutional resources, while domestic institutions accounted for the rest. “With insurance companies led by LIC emerging as large investors in equity markets, perhaps for the first time the ratio will change, where over 60 per cent investment in the equity capital markets will come from domestic institutions. In the next two years, 75 per cent of the money will come from domestic institutional investors,” Shah added.

Over a period of two years, LIC’s investment in equities has increased by over 86 per cent.

“Our investment is a function of how our policyholders want us to invest and how we are expected to invest as per the guidelines. For us, the bottom line is safety,” a senior LIC executive said.

“It is a significant amount. LIC is known to be a long term player and more stable compared to FII or other domestic investors. It provides long term cushion to the market,” said Elara Capital Head-Institutional Equities & Global Research Harendra Kumar.

This year, apart from allocating Rs 60,000 crore to equity papers, around Rs 35,000 crore is in corporate debt instruments, while another Rs 65,000-Rs 70,000 crore has been invested in government securities. The remaining 35,000 crore have been invested in other instruments and in infrastructure sector. While the details of investment the infrastructure sector were unavailable, the company is expected to fall short of the 15 per cent exposure norm for want of quality papers, a senior LIC executive said.

During the next financial year, company executives said, LIC’s total premium income was expected to go up by around 15 per cent, which will result in a total mop up of around Rs 2,30,000 crore. Of this Rs 75,000 crore will flow into equities, while details of other investment are still being finalised.

LIC expects its premium collection from new business to go up by 25 per cent. Between April and February, first premium income was estimated at Rs 54,320 crore.

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