Mumbai: Staffing firms Ikya Human Capital Solutions and TeamLease Services Pvt. Ltd are looking to raise as much as $350 million in two separate stock market listings in the first half of 2015, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The listings could mark a recovery in Indian stock flotations. Despite a stock market rally in 2014, only six firms listed on the National Stock Exchange because of uncertainty about an economy suffering its longest slowdown since the 1980s.

They also indicate anticipation of an improvement in the labour law regime, an area where the government has got off to a start of sorts with some changes in compliance and reporting requirements.

Company executives and investors are becoming more confident about a recovery on the back of expected economic reforms by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

TeamLease, partly owned by ICICI Venture, has hired Credit Suisse, IDFC Ltd and ICICI Securities to manage an initial public offering (IPO) expected to raise between $125 million and $150 million, four people involved in the process said.

Reached for comment, TeamLease co-founder and senior vice president Rituparna Chakraborty said the company wouldn’t comment on “market speculation".

Ikya, controlled by Canada’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd through its Indian subsidiary, travel firm Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, is looking to raise $200 million but has yet to appoint banks, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Ajit Isaac, managing director and chief executive officer of Ikya, said the company had “no compelling reason" for an IPO “right now".

“We are a no-debt company. There is sufficient cash on the books," Isaac added.

Both companies are looking to complete the listings in the first half of 2015, said the people, who declined to be identified because neither transaction has been made public.

In November last year, Ikya entered into an agreement with Fairfax Financial Holdings to buy a 49% stake in Fairfax’s subsidiary MFXchange Holdings Inc. Thomas Cook is a subsidiary of Fairfax.

MFX, based in New Jersey, US, provides hosted technology applications and outsourcing solutions for the US commercial property and casualty insurance industry.

It was Ikya’s third acquisition in 2014. In September, the company acquired the Canadian IT and engineering professional staffing firm Brainhunter Companies Llc for an undisclosed amount. In June, it acquired Chennai-based industrial asset management firm Hofincons Infotech and Industrial Services Pvt. Ltd. Hofincons Infotech has interests in electrical, mechanical and instrumentation services as well as facilities management.

India’s stock market regulator prohibits companies from speaking on their IPOs till they have filed draft red herring prospectuses.

Neither company in this case has done so.

Only six firms listed on the National Stock Exchange in 2014, raising 1,706 crore while the broader Nifty surged 31.4% last year.

Bankers are hoping that will change as the government seeks to deliver on its reform pledges. Last month, it announced a series of executive decrees targeting the coal and insurance sectors, while also easing land acquisition rules.

Labour reforms are also expected to be a priority for the government, which in October announced a series of smaller measures to simplify employment rules.

Outdated labour laws strictly limit hiring and firing.

Partly as a result, just 8% of Indian workers have formal jobs with any security and benefits, while the vast majority work in the informal sector.

“Equity issuances will increase in 2015 given the confidence in the Indian economy is rising," said U.R. Bhat, managing director at Dalton Capital, a unit of British-based investment management firm Dalton Strategic Partnership Llp.

“HR (human resources) is a skills-based industry. It’s a new theme and therefore would attract a scarcity premium." Reuters

A Mint staff writer contributed to this story.

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