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Standard Life plans to up stake in HDFC joint venture

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Plc today said it will look at increasing stake in the Indian insurance joint venture with HDFC and explore the possibility of listing the business in India.

Standard Life, which today posted a profit of 305 million pounds for 2009, currently holds 26 per cent stake in the joint venture HDFC Insurance Company.

The UK insurer said it would focus on maximising the value from its joint venture relationships in Asia.

This would help in increasing the shareholder value, "through building a strong strategic partnership in China and the opportunity to increase our stake in our Indian joint venture", the firm said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters, an official said the company would also look at listing the joint venture in India.

Earlier, HDFC had said that it would explore the possibility of listing the joint venture business. The joint venture is a leading private insurance player in India.

"As on February 28, 2009 HDFC holds 72.43 per cent and (Mauritius Holding) 2006, holds 26 per cent of equity in the joint venture, while the rest is held by others," according to HDFC Standard Life Insurance's website.

Currently Indian regulations allow up to 26 per cent foreign direct investment in the insurance sector even though there is a proposal to raise the FDI limit to 49 per cent.

Standard Life reported a profit of 305 million pounds for the year ended December 31, 2009. In 2008, the company had a loss of 134 million pounds.

Standard Life said it would target to save 100 million pounds by 2012.

"These savings, which will improve new business margins, will be achieved through transforming our operations to become lower cost and scalable, while maintaining the quality of customer service," the statement added.

In 2010, Standard Life would be doubling the level of growth investment in its business apart from spending over 200 million pounds to further develop and market the company's leading corporate and retail propositions.

Standard Life's Chief Executive Officer David Nish said that 2009 was a successful year for the company, in which it delivered against strategic objectives and built a strong platform for future profitable growth.

"Standard Life starts 2010 in a good position... We are stepping up our investment in our leading corporate and retail propositions during 2010 and are excited by the many opportunities across our markets," Nish noted.

First Published: Wed, March 10 2010. 21:25 IST