Mumbai: Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB) is once again considering going public as talks for a private stake sale to Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings have fallen through, two people aware of the development said.

“An IPO (initial public offering) is back on the table for Catholic Syrian Bank. They are seriously exploring that. They are in preliminary discussions, though no final decision has been taken as of yet. For now, they are exploring an IPO and continue to explore a private stake sale," said one of the persons cited above, requesting anonymity as the negotiations are private.

The failure of talks with Fairfax, which had been on for over six months, is the reason why the private sector lender is looking at reconsidering a public offering, he added.

On 30 June, Mint reported that Watsa-helmed Fairfax Financial Holdings’ proposed deal to pick up a 51% stake in CSB had fallen through over differences in valuation.

According to a 30 May Bloomberg report, an external agency hired by the bank arrived at a valuation of Rs165-200 a share, plus a control premium of at least 15%. Fairfax was unwilling to match the price being sought by the bank, based on this valuation.

“We would not like to comment on the capital-raising plans of the bank," a spokesperson for CSB said in an email response.

In May, Business Standard had reported that various private equity and strategic investors had shown interest in the bank. Aion Capital, JM Financial and the Everstone-backed IndoStar Capital had evinced interest in acquiring a stake in the bank, the newspaper reported.

The bank was looking at an initial public offering before it started talking to private investors such as Fairfax.

In fact, in March 2015, the private sector lender had filed a draft red herring prospectus to raise Rs400 crore through an IPO. In June 2015, markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India had approved its public offering. However, the bank had eventually let the approval lapse.

Subsequently, the bank raised Rs114.5 crore through a preferential issue of shares to investors such as Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance Co. Ltd, Reliance Capital Ltd, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd, HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co. Ltd, filings with the registrar of companies show.

So far this year, 13 companies have raised over Rs11,700 crore through the IPO route.

In 2015 and 2016, 47 companies raised a total of Rs40,177 crore through IPOs, data from Prime Database shows.

The IPO market in the past two years has seen several banks go public. The offerings have also seen strong interest from investors.

Lenders that have gone public in the past two years include small finance banks such as AU Small Finance Bank Ltd, Equitas Holdings Ltd, Ujjivan Financial Services Ltd and universal bank RBL Ltd.

On Monday, shares of AU Small Finance Bank made a stellar market debut, ending their first trading day 51% higher than the IPO price. The stock ended trading on Monday at Rs541.20 on BSE against its IPO pricing of Rs358.

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