Although the RBI has not firmed up its views on new licensing norms for private banks, announcement of the new structure may help generate more interest in the lender, which the Centre has been seeking to reposition for two decades but with little success.
In the past, the RBI had indicated that the government’s stake sale and announcement of the new norms were not linked. Sources, however, said that the government has been in dialogue with the RBI on stake sale and the regulator was aware of the need to provide a road map for comfort to potential buyers.
The current guidelines stipulate 40% minimum shareholding in terms of the paid up capital or voting rights. Over 10 years, this needs to be diluted to 20-30% and further reduced to 15-26% between 12 and 15 years, depending on the licence vintage. An internal group set up by the RBI had proposed reworking these, apart from allowing corporate houses into the space.
Many of the bidders may seek clarity on these aspects. Recently, the department of investment and public asset management had said that the government and LIC would decide on the extent of stake sale during the process of finalising the deal.
Although private investors are keen that the government holds no stake, something that NITI Aayog too had noted in some of its recommendations, government sources said, the idea was to leave it to bidders to decide the best course of action. “Someone may want majority control, while someone may like to do with a lower stake. Let the bidders decide,” said a source.
The government currently holds 45.5% in the financial institution-turned-universal bank with LIC’s shareholding pegged at 49.2%. On Friday, the bank’s share rose 0.4% to close at Rs 37.9 on BSE but is still lower than LIC’s acquisition price. LIC had acquired shares in IDBI Bank in three tranches.