Cash-hungry Indian companies are selling shares at record pace

Cash-hungry Indian companies are selling shares at record pace

Companies in India are selling equity at an unprecedented rate, seeking to prepare themselves for what’s forecasted to be the economy’s first contraction in four decades.

The country’s firms have sold $8.9 billion worth of new shares year-to-date, the most on record for such a period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Banks account for more than half the total, having raised $5.6 billion this year.

Many of the largest deals have come from lenders, which are also on a record fundraising spree, as they strive to strengthen balance sheets to cope with an expected increase in bad loans. Further, lockdowns imposed to fight the coronavirus outbreak have hammered businesses and left millions jobless.

Mumbai-based ICICI Bank is in the process of fetching as much as $2 billion in a qualified institutional placement to strengthen its capital adequacy ratio. That’s set to be the largest primary additional offering by an Indian bank this year, Bloomberg-compiled data show. With that, sales of new shares in India would exceed all previous full-year tallies.

The previous record was in 2017, which was another busy year for fundraising by banks as bad loans in India’s financial system began to soar. Bankers expect the strong deal-flow to continue, especially as markets remain receptive amid abundant liquidity. India’s lenders may have to raise $20 billion of cash over the next year, according to Credit Suisse Group AG.

Of that amount in expected fundraising, state-run banks are estimated to need $13 billion from the government to recapitalise.