L&T gets IRDA nod, may start insurance business in Q1FY11

L&T has received initial approval from IRDA and may start its general insurance business in the first quarter of FY11

Engineering and construction major Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) is likely to start its general insurance business in the first quarter of the next fiscal following preliminary approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).

IRDA member R Kannan told PTI that the insurance watchdog had given its initial R1 approval to L&T and the company would take at least three-four months to start the venture.

"In its board meeting, IRDA has given R1 approval to L&T for its general insurance venture," Mr Kannan said.

According to L&T's senior vice president (financial services) N Sivaraman, the venture would be operational in the first half of the next fiscal subject to regulatory approval.

The proposed insurance firm would begin operations with paid-up capital between Rs110 crore and Rs120 crore, he said. "We expect that the share capital to go up to Rs500 crore in the next five years depending on business growth," Mr Sivaraman added.

L&T has already put in place top management for the proposed venture. Joydeep Roy will head L&T General Insurance Co.

R1 is the preliminary approval given by IRDA, wherein the regulator evaluates the promoters. There are three stages of approval required for getting a licence for an insurance company.
In the second stage (R2), IRDA looks into the business model of the company and in the third (R3), at the formation of the company.

There are currently 22 non-life insurance players, including four public sector companies, in the country.

Besides, the IRDA gave R2 approval to health insurance company Max Bupa Health Insurance, Mr Kannan added. Max Bupa is a joint venture between Max India and UK-based Bupa Group.

Max Bupa is likely to start operations from next month after getting the R3 approval. The company had received initial approval in November last year.

It would be the third company to provide only health insurance after Star Health-Allied Insurance and Apollo Munich Health Insurance.
 

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COMMENTS

R.Srinivasan

7 years ago

It looks as though the engineering and construction major is not sure of its core competence. It has been divesting itself of unrelated business over the past 3-4 years and now is planning to enter the general insurance business which is unrelated to its present expertise and which has already 22 operators with the 4 public sector companies holding a near monopoly. Is the Company losing its focus as one would feel especially as this news comes after a none-too-good quarter

NCDEX doesn't come under RTI, says CIC

The CIC has said that NCDEX, which trades in agricultural commodity futures, does not come under the ambit of the RTI Act and is not liable to provide any information under this legislation

The National Commodity and Derivative Exchange Ltd (NCDEX), which trades in agricultural commodity futures, does not come under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and is not liable to provide any information under it, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held, reports PTI.

The Commission said that NCDEX does not receive any direct or indirect funding by the government, one of the mandatory requirements to bring an organisation under the transparency law.

"Despite the fact that 46% of the equity capital of NCDEX is held by public sector undertakings (PSUs), NCDEX cannot be said to be a 'public authority' as there is no direct or indirect funding by an 'appropriate government'."

"We, therefore, hold that NCDEX is not a public authority and is, therefore, not liable to provide any information under the RTI Act," information commissioner ML Sharma said in a recent order.

The case pertains to Jodhpur-based RTI applicant Indubala Agrawal who sought details of some records from the exchange, which in turn rejected the request, saying it was not a public authority as per the RTI Act.

Anil Agrawal, who was representing Indubala during the hearing, pleaded before the Commission that the exchange has been "notified" vide notification under the Forward Contracts (Regulation Act), 1952.

Mr Agrawal said since NCDEX has been created by a government notification, it fulfils one of the mandatory criteria for bringing an organisation under the Act and hence it should provide all the information to him.

NCDEX, which commenced futures trading in agricultural commodities from December 2003, was 'recognised' by the government of India on the recommendation of the Future Markets Commission.

Mr Agrawal said that equity participation by public sector companies amounts to indirect government financing as its money is channelized through these companies.

Even if it is held that equity participation of PSUs is only 46%, this may be reasonably interpreted to mean "substantial financing" as mentioned in the RTI Act, the counsel said.

The CIC did not consider the argument that the exchange is created by a government notification and drew parallels with the case of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS), which was earlier exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act by it.
 

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COMMENTS

Narayan Varma

7 years ago

Happy and got informed about CIC decision, Where can one get full copy of the order, Pl give citation and number and date of the order.

Madan Kumar Rajan

7 years ago

I would say that all publicly traded companies should be liable to provide information under RTI act. Even if the government hasn't funded the organization, it is more or less public as it has been funded by public. Being funders we the people deserve to know all details that can be disclosed (those which comes under RTI)

Poor retail response to IPOs rings alarm bells

DB Realty’s IPO received just 23,000 applications after the company spent Rs13.50 crore for its ads in The Times of India alone. NTPC’s FPO received just 80,000 applications. This has set the alarm bells ringing for decision makers

Retail investors continue to shun public issues. This has at last created panic among decision makers. The pride of the nation, National Thermal Power Corp (NTPC), managed to get an overall subscription of 1.2 times for its follow-on offer (FPO) with a retail participation of just 16% of the total 42.8 million shares reserved for the retail investors’ category. For its total shares on offer, NTPC received a dismal 80,000 applications from retail investors all over the country. This will be no surprise to the readers of this website. On the day NTPC opened, Moneylife had written that the NTPC issue will not attract retail participation thanks to a variety of reasons (see here). The issue opened on 3rd February.

More than NTPC, the high-profile DB Realty’s initial public offering (IPO) has failed miserably. After spending a whopping Rs13.50 crore for advertisements in the Times of India (ToI) group alone, the DB Realty IPO, which opened on 29th January, received just 23,000 applications for its Rs1,500-crore issue. It received a pathetic 457 applications from high net-worth individuals (HNIs). It is a different matter that even the ToI group advised its readers to stay away from the DB Realty IPO! (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/features/investors-guide/DB-Realty-IPO-Investors-are-advised-to-stay-away/articleshow/5521419.cms)
The gross and continuous failure of issues to attract retail subscriptions has started ringing alarm bells among decision makers. If this continues, the government’s disinvestment programme will be badly affected. Poor retail participation is the result of years of poor regulation and malpractices by market participants, which have caused equity products to perform very poorly. “It is a crisis situation,” says an IPO expert.

The crisis has been building up over a period of time. Godrej Properties received 18,300 retail applications and 50 from HNI investors for its IPO. JSW Energy received 86,559 retail applications and just 97 from HNIs. MBL Infrastructures received just 3,616 retail applications and only 29 applications from HNIs. Den Networks (Rs195), an associate of Network18, received 3,916 retail applications and 50 from HNIs at the end of October 2009. Aqua Logistics, which was to close on 2nd February, revised its price band downwards and extended the date after failing to attract investors.

The disinterest of employees is another feature of many IPOs. The employee segment of MBL Infrastructures received only 26 applications (0.12% subscription); Astec LifeSciences received 55 employee applications (0.5% subscription), while Euro Multivision had an embarrassing 16 employee applications (0.3% subscription). Even in the case of NTPC, out of the total 42,73,220 shares reserved for the employee category, only 43%(18,73,807) of the shares were subscribed. If employees are unconvinced about a company’s pricing and prospects, how can it attract others?

As the government gets ready to raise Rs30,000 crore through disinvestment of PSU shares, its biggest worry ought to be the vanished retail investor. But regulators and officials are busy fighting turf battles or protecting personal interests. Meanwhile, India's investor population has plummeted from the claimed 20 million (probably exaggerated) in the 1990s to eight million (according to the Swarup Committee report of 2009), and is probably even smaller in reality.
 

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COMMENTS

Vandana Gupta

7 years ago

Mybe SEBI and HLCC on Financial Matters chairperson Mr. D. Swarup should recommed to the Govt. that like in Mutual Funds, Merchant Bankers be asked to charge fees from IPO subscribers based on the service and advice they render.

This seems to be the in thing today.

Also, they would convince the Govt. that ultimately what is happening in India based on their advice and recommendations will be followed in other parts of the world.

Shibaji Dash

7 years ago

Based on the experience about the juristic veil being used/abused as a device for laundering unaccounted money in the garb of equity ( recall the mushrooming of ' investment companies' in the early eighties as a prelude to the Harshad Mehta bust and also the Rupal Ben Panchal scam in 2006?), one can not dismiss the overpricing of the non-PSU IPOs as a deliberate pre-meditated two pronged strategy to (i) roll in as much money as can be seduced from the unconnected retail investors and (ii) also simultaneously have the promoters-controlled conduits like their investment companies/other entities like trusts and individuals to subscribe to the IPOs/FPOs and thus such unaccounted money transmuting as equity of the Company that made the IPOs or FPOs.To maximise the kill in case of the FPOs the market is rigged well ahead of the opening date to raise the average rate prior to that date. The PSU IPOs/FPOs appear to have fallen victims of such nexus driven manipulations of the ( private ) corporates nd the (merchant) bankers- in a repeat of the Harshad phenomenon. It is for the investing authorities of the Income Tax Dept. to take a call, much less the regulatory authorities.

Shibaji Dash

7 years ago

Pity the Govt. , hungry for money to bridge the deficit or for may be other unknown reasons, is using the PSU IPOS/FPOS like merchant bankers not factoring that the merchant bankers in the perception of the investors are a thoroughly discredited lot. Not that the retail investor/common man perceives the political masters any differently. Bankruptcy of thought all over in those in power of any genre.

Pankaj Namdharani

7 years ago

Do consider the application figures of recent IPO i.e. Infinite Computer Solutions (121000 retail app) and Jubiliant Foods which got good response from Retail. I believe it is more to do with pricing of the IPO and what is left for the investors. Most of the IPO were Overpriced be it NHPC, NTPC, JSW, Adani, pipav, so is the punishment

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