HDFC said to pick banks for $400 million IPO of insurance unit

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Mumbai: Housing Development Finance Corp., India’s largest mortgage lender, has picked banks to arrange an initial public offering of its life insurance joint venture that could raise as much as $400 million, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. are among banks chosen to work on a listing of HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co., according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The offering could take place later this year, the people said.

HDFC Standard Life may compete for investors with ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co., the joint venture between India’s biggest private-sector lender and the UK’s Prudential Plc that is also preparing an IPO. The deals will be the first listings from India’s $50 billion life-insurance industry, which was first opened to private investors 16 years ago.

A representative for HDFC Standard Life didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and phone call seeking comment. IFR reported the bank selections earlier Thursday, citing unidentified people.

HDFC Standard Life’s board approved plans for an initial public offering, according to an 20 April statement. Mumbai-based HDFC may sell as much as a 10% stake in the joint venture, while Standard Life will hold on to its entire stake, the statement shows.

The Indian Parliament passed a bill last year allowing foreigners to own as much as 49% in the nation’s insurers, up from 26%. Indian insurers have drawn at least Rs9,100 crore in overseas investment since the ownership cap was raised, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

HDFC last year sold a 0.95% stake in the insurance unit to PremjiInvest, a fund set up by Indian outsourcing billionaire Azim Premji, in a deal that valued the insurer at about Rs20,950 crore, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Edinburgh-based Standard Life boosted its stake in the Indian venture to 35%, from 26%, in a deal completed in April.