India’s Ambani Weighs Selling Reliance General Insurance to Reduce Debt

Beleaguered Indian tycoon Anil Ambani is in talks to sell his group’s general insurance unit to a shadow lender, people familiar with the matter said, as he seeks to reduce debt.

Reliance Capital Ltd., controlled by Ambani, is discussing the contours of a deal to sell Mumbai-based Reliance General Insurance to Hero FinCorp. Ltd. the people said, asking not to be named as the information is not public. Negotiations are ongoing and may not result in a deal, the people said.

The plan to sell the fully-owned insurance unit is part of efforts by the former billionaire to cut his conglomerate’s liabilities after a debt-fueled expansion in the past decade led to the collapse of his telecom unit and placed other businesses under stress. The group has this month signed agreements to sell its radio station and stake in an asset management venture.

Reliance General Insurance may be valued at as much as 60 billion rupees ($860 million), The Economic Times reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources. The company is a unit of Reliance Capital, Ambani’s financial services arm.

A spokesman at Reliance Capital declined to comment while a representative for Hero FinCorp didn’t respond to an email and phone calls seeking comment.

Reliance Capital earlier this month protested a three-step downgrade by Care Ratings to its credit score, saying the rating company didn’t fully factor in the impact of its plan to raise more than 100 billion rupees via asset sales and cut overall debt by more than half this financial year.