Monday, April 3, 2023

In India's $1 trillion bond market, insurers' clout is growing

India’s $1 trillion bond market sees rising heft of insurers


Delhi, India: The $1 trillion sovereign bond market in India is undergoing a significant shift as a result of the public's increasing wealth.

Their savings are being channeled through life insurers, provident funds, and pension funds into long-term debt, resulting in a structural change in the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's borrowing costs.

India's yield bend has straightened especially as the guarantors and annuity finances gobbled up 10-to long term obligation, with HDFC Life coverage Ltd saying that market members are requesting that the national bank sell all the more longer-dated securities. As a result of their expanding presence, the state will eventually become less dependent on banks and traders will be less concerned about how Modi's infrastructure-building spree will be funded.

Badrish Kulhalli, head of fixed-income at HDFC Life, stated, "Insurance companies have been one of the key investors in long-maturity bonds." We anticipate that traditional product sales and, as a result, demand for long-maturity bonds will continue to rise as distribution channels become more widely used.

This week, the government will outline its borrowing strategy for April through September. Typically, it aims to borrow between 55 and 60 percent of its full-year target.

According to data from the finance ministry, the shift has been gradual, with insurers holding 26% of government bonds at the end of December, up from 22% in 2010. Due to the widespread use of a derivative trade that conceals purchases and is estimated to be worth $19 billion, their presence is probably understated.

However, recent bond auctions in the fiscal year that ended in March showed their growing weight, as longer-dated debt sold for lower yields than shorter-maturity paper. For the first time since 2017, the gap between the two-year benchmark and the 10-year benchmark is almost gone.

Surprising market veterans, the 14.2 trillion rupee ($172 billion) borrowing program went off without a hitch and was supported by the central bank.

Since Modi's government will borrow a record 15.4 trillion rupees in the upcoming fiscal year, that is likely to please him. New Delhi needs to track down more longer-term financial backers for its bonds to satisfy an aggressive country building plan — which will incorporate 50 new air terminals, heliports and aerodromes.

In her February budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government had identified 100 new projects for so-called "last mile connectivity." She also suggested increasing capital spending by more than a third to 10 trillion rupees.

One of the world's fastest-growing insurance markets, India is expected to be the sixth largest by 2032, according to a Swiss Re report released in January. Over the next ten years, it predicted, total insurance premiums will increase by 14% annually in nominal local currency.

Another sector aided by an increase in financial sophistication is the size of pension funds. As of February, the National Pension System, or NPS, had assets under management that had increased by 18% this fiscal year to 8.5 trillion rupees.

Madhavi Arora, lead economist at Emkay Global Financial Services, said, "They are the new incremental levers of government bond demand, outdoing banks." She was referring to the pension and provident fund corpus. The primary point is that they are unconcerned about, for example, a flat yield curve and are looking for duration.

The bond-forward rate agreement, a flourishing derivative trade between banks and insurers, was one factor driving demand for longer-dated debt over the past few years. Without adding additional debt to their balance sheets, insurance companies were able to secure longer-term yields for return-guaranteed products using the strategy.

According to Sampath Reddy, chief investment officer at Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Ltd., "the business has grown toward non-par savings products where customers want guaranteed returns." "The last couple of years have seen more demand from insurance companies."

A tax on high-value insurance products, which targets an area popular with wealthy investors and takes effect in April, is one potential obstacle. Some, like ICICI Securities Primary Dealership Ltd. and Star Union Dai-ichi Life Insurance Ltd., assert that the impact should be monitored.

Given that Modi is relying on the debt market to finance one of the highest budget deficits in Asia, investors need to be cautious about government borrowing.

Ram Kamal Samanta, senior vice president for investment at Star Union Dai-ichi Life Insurance, stated, "With fresh supply in the new financial year, the evolving demand-supply dynamics for the longer-end of the yield curve needs to be monitored." This will determine the yield curve's future shape as we enter the final phase of the rate hike cycle.

However, India's position as the world's fastest-growing major economy is likely to deepen its financial markets beyond the current fiscal year, bolstering the insurance and pension funds there. Additionally, that money already has a home in the bond market's longer-dated segment.

Emkay's Arora stated, "Insurance has been incrementally becoming a major player."

Catch Daily Highlights In Your Email

* indicates required

Post Top Ad