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Aviva plans to quit Indian insurance JV

UK-based insurer Aviva is plannign sell its stake in the Indian joint venture with Dabur group, Aviva Life Insurance. It has appointed JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank to advise it on the stake sale. The company is understood to be valued at Rs 1100 crore. Aviva’s 26% stake may be sold either to another global insurer or to the Burmans of Dabut group. Aviva joins a growing tribe of multinational insurers which are quitting India either because of their troubles back home, or due to their disappointment of not being allowed to raise their holding beyond 26% in India. The company has performed poorly, and has slipped to 13th in the rankings table with its total premium income falling 11% last fiscal to Rs 2140 crore. It has equity share capital of Rs 2,005 crore as on March 2013. Of the 24 private life insurance companies, seven are still lossmaking. Aviva Life has made a profit of Rs 32 crore in 2012-13. Some 13 years after the sector was thrown open to private and foreign companies, two international insurers ING and New York Life have exited life insurance joint ventures in India. Last year, HSBC had put its life insurance business on the block but could not sell it. Although it received a few interests from local and international insurers, its two joint venture partners Canara Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce opposed the deal, making the proposition unattractive. ING, in its desperation to exit, had to sell its 26% stake at a loss to the promoter: it sold its 26% to promoter Rajan Raheja for Rs 550 crore, a good 25% lower than its investment. New York Life sold its 26% stake in Max India for Rs 2000 crore, valuing the company at 3.5 times the embedded value – the present value of future profits. Japan’s Nippon Life had bought 26% in Reliance Life for Rs 2948 crore at three times the embedded value. A legislation enabling foreign insurers to raise holding to 49% is pending with the Rajya Sabha since 2008.

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