The Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) played a crucial role in the success of the Hindustan Copper Ltd divestment issue. The state-owned insurer bought about half the shares sold in the 5.58 per cent stake sale in the firm in November last year — the government’s first successful stake sale this fiscal through the offer-for-sale route.
Data available with stock exchanges reveals that LIC bought 2.25 crore shares of HCL from a total of 5.16 crore shares that were offered during its disinvestment. The state-owned insurer owns 2.83 per cent stake in the copper miner, which has a total public float of 5.99 per cent.
Till now, it was only market analysts who had indicated that the government had to use the services of the state-owned insurer and public sector banks to bail out the issue while the finance ministry had refused to comment.
Post disinvestment, the number of public investors in HCL rose to 26 from the original seven.
By December 2012, seven insurers had a total exposure of 2.71 lakh crore shares and holding of 2.27 per cent in the firm, as against a single insurer that held a mere 28 lakh shares or 0.03 per cent stake in September 2012.
The HCL public offer also attracted mutual funds, financial institutions, banks as well as high networth individuals but got a muted response from foreign investors. While five mutual funds and seven financial institutions lapped up shares in its stake sale, only two foreign investors bought shares.
At present, financial institutions and banks hold 0.87 per cent stake in the firm as against the earlier 0.01 per cent. Mutual funds hold 0.34 per cent stake as on December 31, 2012.