Quite a Buzz in the Market About LIC IPO, we are Moving Ahead with It: Sitharaman

The government will go ahead with the planned initial public offering of Life Insurance Corporation despite the market volatilities, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

The government is keeping a close eye on the development due to the tension between Ukraine and Russia and would like to see a diplomatic solution to the crisis, Sitharaman said.

The finance minister was in Mumbai for a post-budget consultation with industrialists and bankers. She also chaired meeting of the Finance Stability and Development Council (FSDC).

“The LIC draft red herring prospectus is already out, and we are seeing quite a buzz in the market about it. We are moving ahead with it like we did with Air India,” she said.

The government plans to sell 5% of its stake in LIC for around RS 65,000 crore in what will be the largest initial public issue in India, valuing the insurance behemoth at about Rs13 lakh crore. LIC is likely to be listed on the local stock exchanges before the end of March.

Market volatilities due to geopolitical tension and higher oil prices were discussed in the FSDC meeting, but no extraordinary steps are needed due to these developments as of now, Sitharaman said.

“It is difficult to say how crude oil prices will go. Yes, there are headwinds and the government is watching the situation the impact on trade due to the geopolitical crisis is yet to be felt, but our exporters are aware of the situation and so is the Ministry of External Affairs. The government is watchful, and we will protect the interests of our exporters,” she said.

The minister declined any specific comments on the National Stock Exchange issue because the case is still developing. “I am looking at the issue coming out, but I cannot comment this way or that till I read the case fully,” she said.

Replying to a question, the minister said the government would announce “as soon as possible” a new chairman for the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, a post which has been vacant for more than nine months. The government has also called for application for the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India and shortlisting of the candidates will be done by the end of the month, Sitharaman said. S-ET

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