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LIC Steps Up Corporate Bond Activity – Implications Across Financial Sector Explained for Investors

Introduction:

Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is increasing its investments into highly-rated corporate bonds from large non-bank lenders and conglomerates like Reliance Industries. This has ramifications across finance and industry.

Analysis for a Layman:

LIC is India’s largest institutional investor deploying policyholder funds. It is buying more corporate bonds – tradable debt instruments issued by companies to raise money. This includes bonds from non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) like Tata Capital. It provides funding for major corporations too, recently investing heavily in a Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) bond offering.

LIC Steps Up Corporate Bond Activity

Original Analysis:

As per sources, LIC aims to earn higher returns to back new guaranteed return products for policyholders. So it is channeling funds into top-rated corporate bonds where it can achieve yields above government securities. This expands LIC’s footprint in debt markets alongside banks and dedicated NBFC lenders who also invest in bonds. However, banks currently face pressures like intense regulation and higher capital requirements. This environment actually favors insurance sector participation.

Impact on Retail Investors:

For stock investors, LIC mobilizing funds into corporate bonds is marginally positive. Companies have alternate funding avenues besides banks or market equity issuances. This expanded pool of capital can fuel corporate growth plans and shareholder returns. However, retail fixed income investors may see lower yields due to added demand from gigantic institutional buyers.

Impact on Industries:

LIC’s growing appetite provides a large, stable financing channel for India Inc. Companies can raise substantial, longer-term capital via debt issues targeted to this conservative institutional class. This further develops India’s embryonic corporate bond ecosystem. Bond issuances fill working capital and capex needs while avoiding typical lending processes.

Benefits Long Term:

Deeper corporate bond markets improve financing access, duration, and pricing for listed firms over the long term. This fuels business investment, job creation, and overall growth – translating into stronger equity market returns.

Negatives:

Concentration risk if a few large players dominate the investor base. Market fixation on ratings could enable unworthy issuers to raise funds.

Short Term Benefits:

Easier access to capital for corporations and NBFCs at a time of hesitant bank lending. Provides an alternative to market volatility or high-interest rates.

Negatives:

Excess liquidity may encourage unnecessary speculation and risk-taking by aggressive corporates.

Companies to Gain:

  • Large frequent issuers of debt securities like RIL, Tata Motors, NTPC
  • Specialist NBFC bond arrangers e.g. Edelweiss Financial, JM Financial

Potential Losers:

  • PSU banks – losing deal flows for corporate lending and bonds
  • Insurers with lower risk appetite e.g. HDFC Life, SBI Life

Additional Insights:

LIC’s mandate includes investing policyholder funds prudently while generating adequate returns. Its risk controls likely prevent mass speculation. Though added demand may strain yields, deeper corporate bond traction should support financial market evolution.

Conclusion:

LIC’s growing participation as a major buyer should increase access and affordability of direct corporate bond-based fundraising. This meets companies’ financing needs while offering policyholders better product choices. Despite near-term yield impact, deeper markets mark a positive step.

Citation:

Dutta, B. (2023, December 8). There’s a New Mr Bond on Debt Street. The Economic Times.

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