India’s ICICI to sell $296 mln stake in life unit to Temasek, Premji: Reuters

ICICI Bank, India’s biggest private sector lender by assets, will sell a 6 percent stake in its life insurance joint venture in two separate deals worth a combined $296 million to billionaire Azim Premji and Singapore state investor Temasek.

India’s Premji Invest and its affiliates are buying 4 percent of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co Ltd, the biggest Indian private sector life insurer, valuing the insurance business at 325 billion rupees($4.9 billion), ICICI Bank said in a statement on Monday.

A unit of Temasek will buy a 2 percent stake in the life insurance business that is 26 percent owned by Britain’s Prudential Plc. The deals will reduce ICICI Bank’s stake in the life insurance company to 68 percent.

India earlier this year allowed higher foreign ownership in the $50 billion insurance sector that has been starved of capital.

While that opened the door for ICICI Prudential Life and its closest rival HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co. Ltd to go public, bankers and executives have said the companies will first seek private equity investments ahead of possible initial public offerings.

Last year in December, Azim Premji Trust agreed to buy 0.95 percent of HDFC Standard Life Insurance. Premji is the third-richest Indian according to Forbes rankings.

ICICI Bank also in October agreed to sell a 9 percent stake in its general insurance joint venture to partner Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.