Mumbai: State-run Life Insurance Corp. of India, or LIC, is targeting investment of as much as Rs50,000 crore in equities this fiscal year. In an interview, chairman T.S. Vijayan speaks about the company’s plans for the months ahead. Edited excerpts:
Betting big: LIC chairman T.S. Vijayan. Santosh Harhare / HT
At the current level of the market, do you think that the fundamentals and valuations make you feel bullish or do you think it’s run up a little too high?
There is a chance of investing (even at current levels).
There is a chance means you are not fully bullish but okay. Is that what you are saying?
Yes, I will put it that way.
At the current levels you are not totally bullish and would like valuations to be slightly more attractive?
I would always like them to be more attractive. But then we have a constant flow of funds coming in. There is a limit to which we can hold back in a liquid fund or a fixed deposit. We have to deploy it. We look for opportunities or attractive valuations of a particular company or sector.
Are you a net buyer in the current market?
If you look at your total equity investment, do you see that going up over the previous year or barely remaining constant?
We had estimated that this year, we will be investing something like Rs1.75 trillion or something like that. So far it has crossed Rs1 trillion. I believe we are going to exceed the Rs1.75 trillion with a very comfortable margin.
So you are saying that till October-end, where we stand, this financial year Rs1 trillion has been invested in this market?
I am not talking about equity. I am talking about the total.
The money raised?
How much of that would be equity?
I think maybe around 20%, around Rs19,000 crore.
Out of the Rs1.75 trillion you hope to end the year with, how much would be equity?
...I think it will cross at least Rs45,000-50,000 crore.
There was a time when LIC was losing market share to private players. In the last six months, month on month, when the entire private sector is contracting, you, on a much larger base, are growing at 35-30%. What is happening?
This is all about competition, relative growth, etc. I do not read too much into this... When there is a competitive market and so many players are there, somebody is going to gain and so on. But the reality is that this year, some of our products have been doing very well, especially the group products and some of the other non-linked products have started doing very well. Overall, the growth is something like 35%.