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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reliance Capital, Nippon Life to explore broader tie-up

 Reliance Capital and its Japanese partner in life insurance, Nippon Life Insurance, will explore strategic tie-ups in finance, initially in the asset management and private equity businesses of the Indian group.

Any strategic collaboration would boost Nippon Life's presence in India, while giving Reliance Capital better access to capital and expertise, analysts said.

Reliance Capital, controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani, manages assets of over $23 billion across mutual funds, pension funds, managed accounts and hedge funds. Its other businesses include insurance, broking, consumer and commercial finance.

The two firms will also explore possibilities for a distribution tie-up in India for Nippon Life's funds. Japanese companies are stepping up the pace of their overseas expansion after the devastating March 11 earthquake provided another spur to escape a moribund domestic economy.

Reliance Capital's net profit in the June quarter more than halved with income across its core businesses dropping.

Last month, brokerage ICICI Direct said it expected the firm's asset management business to improve due to a greater focus on the retail segment while Citigroup said stiff competition, sluggish inflows, and weak recovery prospects would hurt in the near-term.

In March, Nippon, the world's No.7 life insurer, agreed to pay $680 million to buy a 26 percent stake in Reliance Life Insurance, valuing the business at $2.6 billion.

Indian rules bar foreign firms from owning more than 26 percent in insurance joint ventures with local firms.

Reliance Capital saw a 59-percent fall in its annual premium equivalent in its insurance business for the quarter to end-June, but analysts expect the fund infusion by Nippon to boost its valuation.

Shares of Reliance Capital have fallen about 43 percent in 2011 so far, but analysts see this as a good opportunity to buy.

Shares in Reliance Capital closed up 1.8 percent at 384.2 rupees in a firm Mumbai market on Tuesday. Indian markets remained closed on Wednesday and Thursday for religious holidays.


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