SoftBank-backed Policybazaar rises 27% in India market debut

By Sethuraman N R

BENGALURU (Reuters) -PB Fintech Ltd, the SoftBank-backed parent of online insurance aggregator Policybazaar, rose as much as 27% in its market debut on Monday, with investors betting on an under-penetrated insurance market in the country.

Shares of the company opened 17% higher than the IPO (initial public offering) price of 980 rupees apiece, with about 28 million shares changing hands in morning trade.

The IPO, which included a fresh issue of 37.5 billion rupees ($504.44 million), was oversubscribed nearly 17 times in early-November. SoftBank unit SVF Python II (Cayman) Ltd sold shares worth 18.75 billion rupees in the offering.

"The insurance industry as well as the online market is under-penetrated and the company has a strong market share. We are anticipating growth in the online insurance segment and the company is expected to benefit," said Rajnath Yadav, Senior Research Analyst, Choice Broking.

Life insurance penetration among India's population stood at 2.82% in 2019, compared with 2.15% in 2001, the latest annual report from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority showed.

Launched in 2008, Policybazaar is an online platform for customers and insurer partners to buy and sell products. In its prospectus, PB Fintech had said it would use the proceeds of the IPO to build its brand, develop an offline presence, and make investments and acquisitions.

Along with Policybazaar, refined wood pulp maker Sigachi Industries and decorative aesthetics products maker SJS Enterprises also made their market debuts. While Sigachi rose 267%, SJS was down 1%.

Several Indian startups like food-delivery firm Zomato and cosmetics-to-fashion platform Nykaa have tapped capital markets recently and witnessed stellar debuts.

Ant Group-backed Indian fintech firm Paytm will list on Nov. 18 after the $2.5 billion IPO, the country's largest, was oversubscribed just 1.89 times last week. Other firms due to go public soon include hotel aggregator Oyo and logistics provider Delhivery.

($1 = 74.3400 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Uttaresh.V)

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