IAG weighs SBI General Insurance stake sale

Insurance Australia Group (IAG) is considering selling a stake in SBI General Insurance, a joint venture with India’s largest lender, two people directly aware of the development said. IAG, which holds 26% in the general insurer, has started preliminary talks to hire an investment bank to manage the sale process, the people said, requesting anonymity as the discussions are private.

IAG is likely to sell its stake in multiple tranches, said one of the two people cited above. The Sydney-based company might sell a part of its stake before a proposed initial share sale of the local general insurer, and a part in the initial public offering, the person said, adding that it might sell more over a period of time.

IAG declined to comment on its stake sale plans.

Emails sent to the State Bank of India did not elicit a response.

IAG’s plan to sell a stake in the insurance joint venture follows a 4% stake sale in the insurance company by SBI. In September, SBI sold the stake in SBI General Insurance to Axis Asset Management Co. Ltd and Premji Invest for ?482 crore. The transaction valued SBI General Insurance at ?12,000 crore. SBI’s stake in the venture dropped to 70% following the sale, while IAG continued to own 26%.

SBI General Insurance started operations in 2010 and sells products ranging from motor, health, travel and home insurance in the retail space to aviation, fire, marine and liability insurance in the commercial space.

The insurance sector has seen a flurry of activity in recent times. In November, Mint reported that Oriental Bank of Commerce had initiated the process of selling its 23% stake in Canara HSBC Oriental Bank Life Insurance Ltd. Oriental Bank was looking to raise around ?1,500 crore from the stake sale, Mint reported.

In December, state-run lender Andhra Bank said it had floated a request for proposal to hire a valuer and an investment banker to sell its stake in IndiaFirst Life Insurance Co. Ltd, the bank said in stock exchange filings.

Andhra Bank owns a 30% stake in IndiaFirst Life, while Bank of Baroda holds 44% and private equity firm Warburg Pincus owns 26%. Warburg had acquired the stake from Legal and General Group Plc for an undisclosed amount in June.

Royal Sundaram General Insurance Ltd sold a 40% stake to Ageas Insurance NV of Belgium for ?1,520 crore in November.

In the following month, Mint reported that private equity firm True North Managers Llp was close to buying out Max India Ltd’s entire 51% stake in Max Bupa Health Insurance Co. Ltd.

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