The initial public offering (IPO) of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India can take much longer. The entire process could extend beyond 2020-21 (FY21), according to foreign research house Macquarie.
The investment banking and financial services firm in a note cast doubt on the chances of LIC hitting the IPO market in the next financial year (FY21), following its interactions with actuaries and valuers.
The report pointed out that the first step towards valuing the IPO would be to split LIC’s books into three parts — the traditional participating (PAR) book, non-PAR book, and shareholders’ funds.
In insurance industry parlance, PAR stands for participating policy where the policyholder receives dividends from the insurance firm. The non-PAR policy implies policies where policy holder does not get any share in the profits made by the life insurance company.
“To extract value, they need to divide surplus in such a way the benefits illustrated to PAR policyholders are maintained and the rest of the surplus is transferred to the shareholders’ account after assuring that in the non-PAR book there are enough assets to take care of liabilities,” Macquarie said in its note.
At present, the entire surplus in LIC’s books is distributed in the ratio of 95:5 (95 per cent to policyholders, 5 per cent to shareholders). This means that if there is surplus from any other category such as non-PAR book, it gets transferred to a common pool and distributed in the 95:5 structure. On the other hand, private players operate with 90:10 ratio for only PAR policies.
Analysts say if LIC wants to fetch a higher valuation, it may need to change its 95:5 structure.
“Theoretically, the embedded value (EV) today could only be the present value of 5 per cent of the surplus attributable to shareholders, and that number is very low at Rs 20,000-25,000 crore,” Macquarie said in its note.
Analysts use EV for valuing insurance companies.
“In case LIC were to mark up the net worth to current value of properties and gains sitting on the investment book (after splitting the book in three parts as shown above), then according to them (valuers and actuaries) LIC could trade at 1x price-to-EV at best,” the note added.
Also, the government would need to infuse capital in the insurer behemoth if it wants to float the IPO because of regulations laid down by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irdai), according to sources.
“LIC’s paid-up capital is only Rs 100 crore. Now, if we consider LIC’s large reserves, then capitalisation is more than adequate. But Irdai’s regulations don’t allow the use of reserves to maintain solvency margins towards capitalisation,” the note pointed out.
On the legal front, LIC Act would need to be amended and LIC would need to be converted into a company under the Companies Act.