LIC ups stake in Infosys, buys Rs 2000 crore worth shares

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The country’s largest insurer LIChas hiked its stake in Infosys to a record high level of 6.3% with purchase of shares worth an estimated Rs 2,000 crore in the first quarter of the current fiscal.

Life Insurance Corp of India (LIC), also one of the biggest investors in the Indian stock market, saw its holding in the IT major rise from 4.9% to 6.3% during the quarter ended June 30, 2012.

Based on the average market price during the period, the increase in LIC’s Infosys holding could be worth more than Rs 2,000 crore. LIC is the largest non-promoter shareholder of the company.

LIC hiked its stake in Infosys even as a number of foreign investors pared their holding in the IT company — which has been known as the bellwether stock in the Indian IT space till recently, but is now facing growing concerns about its future growth prospects.

Infosys shares fell sharply yesterday after the company disappointed with its first-quarter results and the weakness was seen continuing in the stock even today morning.

The stock was down 0.7% at Rs 2,250 at the BSE in mid-day trade, as against a 52-week high of 2,990 on February 22, 2012.

The overall FII holding in Infosys fell from 39% to nearly 38% during the last quarter, although major investors like Aberdeen, Oppenheimer, Franklin Templeton, Vanguard and Singapore Government’s investment arm raised their stake marginally in the Indian IT firm.

Among the major overseas investors (those holding at least one%), only Abu Dhabi Investment Authority pared its stake, that too very marginally from 2.12% to 2.08%. However, all the FIIs together are estimated to have sold shares worth about Rs 1,500 crore during the quarter.

Concerns are being raised about Infosys’ growth prospects for two quarters now, but state-run LIC appears to be keeping its faith in the company, market observers said.

Barring the last quarter of the previous fiscal ended March 31, 2012, LIC has been mostly raising its stake in Infosys for many quarters now.

LIC had made its first investment in Infosys way back in 2002, when its holding was nearly two%. Since then, LIC’s stake has been continuously rising in Infosys and had crossed five% mark last year and then rose past 6% level during the last quarter.

Prior to LIC, the erstwhile Unit Trust of India (UTI) — one of the biggest stock market investors of the country before being wound up — used to be the largest non-promoter shareholder in Infosys. UTI held a stake of more than 8% way back in 2001, but it gradually fell to about one% by 2003.

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