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Corporate Apr 13, 2012

Japan's Mitsui to buy 26% in NY Life's India JV for Rs 2,731 cr

New Delhi: US-based New York Life on Thursday announced its exit from Indian life insurance business venture--Max New York Life- by selling its 26 per cent stake at Rs 2,731 crore to Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance of Japan, a deal dubbed as the second largest in insurance sector.

In an all cash transaction, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance (MSI), a unit of MS&AD Group of Japan will pay Rs 2,731 crore for the stake in Max New York Life (MNYL) subject to regulatory approvals. "The transaction values Max New York Life at Rs 10,504 crore. The consideration offered by MS&AD reflects the strong confidence in the company and its superior performance," Max India Chairman Analjit Singh said.

Post the transaction, Max India's majority stake will remain unchanged at 70 percent but the company will be renamed as Max Life Insurance Company

This is the second largest deal in the Indian insurance sector after Reliance Life sold its 26 percent stake to another Japanese insurer Nippon Life at about Rs 3,062 crore last year. As per existing regulation, a foreign partner can hold only up to 26 percent stake in an insurance joint venture.

Post the transaction, Max India's majority stake will remain unchanged at 70 percent but the company will be renamed as Max Life Insurance Company (Max LIC), Singh said.

Under a complex agreement entered into by the firms, New York Life will sell 16.63 per cent of its holding to MSI. The remaining 9.37 percent would be sold to Max India for Rs 182 crore. Max India will then sell the 9.37 percent stake to MSI for Rs 984 crore.

Asked why the deal has been structured in a two-phased manner, Max India, Managing Director Rahul Khosla said: "Obviously from our perspective there are worthwhile tax advantages in doing so. We are able to sell shares in such a way that from tax submission perspective, they make more sense for what tax rates are applied."

There is an overall tax benefit of Rs 879 crore, Khosla said, adding, "we are doing this because this is the most effective way to do it. A separate buy transaction, a separate sell transaction. So,a pre-tax cash benefit of Rs 879 crore (will) accrue." Out of this, Max India will get a net cash flow of Rs 802 crore and Rs 77 crore as brand fee. The cash generated from the arrangement will enable Max India to invest in growth opportunities, Khosla added.

Announcing its exit, New York Life Insurance Chief Financial Officer Michael Sproule said, the company was taking the step as it needed to focus on its North American business. New York Life Insurance in the recent past exited from many other countries, including China, Thailand and Korea, as part of a strategic decision.

PTI

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